China demands US carry Xinjiang cotton, tomato import ban

BEIJING (AP) — China on Thursday demanded Washington drop a ban on cotton and tomato imports from its Muslim northwest around problems they are produced by compelled labor, which a spokesman dismissed as the “lie of the century.”

The ban introduced Wednesday provides to a flurry of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration towards Chinese officials, providers and merchandise more than human legal rights, safety and other complaints.

Its industrial effect is unclear, but Beijing is sensitive to criticism about the Xinjiang region, where additional than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been confined in detention camps. Beijing denies mistreating them and claims it is striving to boost economic improvement and stamp out radicalism.

“The so-named pressured labor problem is a ‘lie of the century’ fabricated out of slim air,” reported a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian. He accused the United States of wanting to damage Chinese firms and the country’s development.

“We urge the U.S. aspect to regard points, straight away withdraw its wrong selection and halt interfering in China’s inner affairs beneath the pretext of Xinjiang-related problems,” Zhao claimed.

Zhao reported Beijing would “safeguard its interests and dignity” but gave no indication of attainable retaliation. The govt has made similar statements adhering to earlier U.S. sanctions but took no motion.

Xinjiang is a main cotton supplier to garments producers in China as properly as Bangladesh, Vietnam and other nations. That makes the U.S. ban a opportunity problem for merchants or apparel brand names that will be needed to make sure their solutions are cost-free of Xinjiang cotton.

Zhao warned the ban would disrupt this kind of world-wide provide chains.

“It is detrimental to the pursuits of enterprises and consumers of all international locations, like the United States alone,” he explained.

Xinjiang also is a significant supplier of tomato paste to international food manufacturers, but its most important marketplaces are Europe and the Middle East.

The United States imported about $9 billion truly worth of cotton items straight from China previous yr, according to the U.S. governing administration.

Earlier, Washington imposed a ban in December on imports from a firm that controls about 1-3rd of Xinjiang cotton output. The government claimed it has stopped shipments worthy of about $2 million. Canada and Britain also have announced ideas to block imports of items produced by pressured labor.

The Trump administration has blocked imports from particular person corporations connected to pressured labor in Xinjiang. It has imposed vacation bans and other sanctions on Communist Celebration officials with distinguished roles in the campaign.