On Wednesday, the US announced a ban on imports of all tomato and cotton products originating from China’s western Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous zone.
The US government has accused China of using forced-labor practices with Xinjiang’s Uyghur Muslims in the cotton and tomato industries, a charge Beijing denies.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the ban and said it applies to any products manufactured with Xinjiang-sourced tomatoes or cotton in any country. CBP officials estimate at least $9 billion worth of Xinjiang cotton products and $10 million in tomato products were imported into the US over the past year.
The ban is one of the most sweeping and aggressive China policies the Trump administration is enacting on its way out. The harsh policies are seen as a way to box the incoming Biden administration in on Beijing, making it harder for Biden to ease US-China tensions. Reversing Trump’s policies would make Biden appear soft on China, something many Republicans have been accusing him of.
Other China policies recently announced by the Trump administration include lifting State Department restrictions on official contacts with Taiwan and prohibiting US investments in firms allegedly tied to China’s military. The New York Stock Exchange just delisted three of China’s largest telecommunication companies to comply with an executive order President Trump signed in November.