Chinese goods made by an organization linked to the mass internment of Muslims in Xinjiang may have made their way to American stores and consumers, According to a report released on Tuesday.
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps is a broad governmental and paramilitary organization with interests in many industries, and Manages Some mass internment camps and prisons where Muslim minorities are held. BuzzFeed News last month found that China has built up the ability to jail More than a million people In the area at any moment.
The Chinese government has framed the detention campaign in the past as a professional or educational development program designed to ward off threats to social stability. But the United States and other governments called it genocide. Last July the United States sanctioning The organization known as XPCC or bingtuan In Chinese, as well as two associated officials, noting their “relationship to serious human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.”
This move effectively made it illegal for anyone in the United States to do business with XPCC and made it difficult for the organization to do business with other countries as well. But new research from a Washington, DC-based nonprofit shows that many XPCC affiliates continue to export merchandise around the world. The report found that some consumer items made from those products, such as tomato sauce or textiles, are sold in the United States as well as to other countries such as Australia, Canada and Germany.
C4ADS, a group reporting on global conflict and security, identified 2,923 XPCC companies and used business files, trade records and publications on the China Cotton Industry Trade website to investigate their business activities.
The group found that a Russian company called Grand Star manufactures tomato products and sauces under the brand name Kubanochka. Two XPCC subsidiaries, Xinjiang Guannong Tomato Products and Xinjiang Wanda Co., Ltd. , more than 150 shipments of tomato paste to Grand Star.
The report revealed companies buying goods from Xinjiang and sending products to other places, but the trade data does not say whether some of the banned items have reached the United States. So it is difficult to know whether the same tomatoes imported from Xinjiang were then sent to the United States, but it is clear that tomato products bearing the Kubanochka brand are sold in the United States, including in international food stores. Grand Star did not respond to a request for comment.
C4ADS also found that at least three XPCC subsidiaries sell XPCC cotton despite it being part of the Better Cotton Initiative, a global industry certification program it says promotes ethical sourcing of cotton products. The Better Cotton Initiative declined to comment on whether these companies’ activities conflict with its principles.
One of the three subsidiaries, Xiamen ITG, is a supply chain management company worth nearly RMB 14 billion. According to government trade data compiled by Panjiva, Xiamen ITG and its subsidiaries have supplied small and large North American retailers, including Walmart Canada and an Ohio-based company called MMI Textiles, a military supply company that has also provided protective equipment to hospitals. Xiamen ITG sent two shipments of polyester and cotton fabrics to MMI in 2019, trade data shows, before the United States began banning Xinjiang cotton. In response to a question about the shipments, Nick Rivera, chief operating officer of MMI Textiles, said it stopped working with the company in January 2019 and that MMI was “disturbed to learn the details you described in your inquiry.”
Founded in 1954—just five years after the ruling Communist Party took power in China—the XPCC originally focused on resettling Han Chinese immigrants in the Xinjiang region, which is the historical home of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. About 86% of the current XPCC members are Han Chinese, by search Published by Yajun Bao at Oxford University. The XPCC is so powerful that Bao and other scholars have described it as playing a parallel role to the regional government of Xinjiang, with interests ranging from cotton cultivation to television and radio. XPCC owns thousands of subsidiaries and makes up up to 21% of the region’s production, including through manufacturing.
“The XPCC is the main culprit of mass detentions and forced labor in Xinjiang, and it has an enormous economic footprint,” said Irina Bukharin, the lead researcher for the C4ADS report. “They are also approved, so understanding how they continue to be linked to the global economy is important to understanding the extent to which sanctions and other measures targeting forced labor in the region have failed.”
US Customs and Border Protection in January He said she will be detained All tomato and cotton products are imported from Xinjiang. However, C4ADS found that both types of products can reach the US including by traveling through third countries. XPCC It is the largest cotton producer in China It is also a major player in the tomato industry.
Withholding shipments from the region is not always a straightforward process, in part because XPCC companies often sell their products through middle firms in other parts of China or other countries. Anna Hinojosa, a Customs and Border Protection official, told BuzzFeed News that the difficulty of obtaining information about businesses in Xinjiang presents a challenge for US regulators.
“The XPCC is a behemoth of an organization. It has many subsidiaries, and they change and change frequently,” said Hinojosa, the CBP Executive Director for Trade Processing Law Enforcement. “It’s a tough job to keep track of.”
“I think there may be some goods coming into the US that we don’t yet realize are related to XPCC,” she added.
XPCC did not respond to requests for comment.