The United States government is considering banning cotton products from the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang because of the human rights situation there, The New York Times reports.
The Uyghurs, a Muslim minority from that area, are the victims of systematic repression by the Chinese government. For example, there are large-scale internment camps where prisoners perform forced labour. According to the Chinese government, these are educational centres.
The ban could be announced as early as Tuesday, according to the New York Times. It is still unclear exactly how it will be formulated.
For example, it is not yet known whether the ban also covers cotton products that were first imported from Xinjiang by other countries. Some of the world’s largest clothing brands source their cotton and other textiles from the Chinese region.
In March, US MPs proposed a bill to ban the import of goods produced in Xinjiang using forced labour. If the import ban comes in, it will be declared by US Customs. The White House and the United States Department of Homeland Security have not yet responded.
The United States and China have been on a collision course with each other for quite some time. Washington accuses Beijing of not being open and honest about the origin of the new coronavirus.
The two superpowers are also at odds over the new Chinese security law for Hong Kong, which the US says is intended to oppress the people of the former British crown colony. President Donald Trump has made a hardline against China; one of his hobby horses is the election campaign.