(NewsNation Now) — The U.S. State Department issued a warning Tuesday to all American companies doing business with China, in regions where forced labor and human rights abuses are rampant.
It is the latest example of the U.S. cracking down on China for its persecution of minority groups in forced labor camps.
Ziba Murat says her mother, Gulshan, was taken to a forced labor camp in northwest China three years ago.
“I don’t know how many times I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, and couldn’t go back to sleep,” Murat.
Murat’s mother is one of an estimated one million Uyghurs, an ethnic minority, to be taken against her will into what the Chinese communist government calls “re-education camps”.
The U.S. State Department calls it something else — genocide.
“Until our family is returned back to us it’s not going to be normal,” Murat said. “We’re going to be living in this for God knows how long.”
Murat fears the worst.
A recent human rights report details examples of torture, rape, forced sterilization and even death in the camp
The U.S. government has decided to fight back.
Ed Fox is the director of the seaport of Newark and New York.
“Forced labor is modern-day slavery,” Fox said. “It’s nothing less than that. 25 million people around the world are suffering”
Recently, Customs and Border Protection ramped up its effort to flag all imports it believes come from the camps.
“Anything illegal, anything that’s flagged comes here,” Fox said. “That’s right. Anything CBP wants to examine”
Items like clothing, shoes, hair products, produce and palm oil.
“American companies get the point, it’s a matter of economics for them, we seize their shipment, they lose the value,” Fox said.
The goods are either destroyed or sent back,
“So far this year, in the Port of New York-Newark alone, we’ve had 128 detentions with a value of over 12 million dollars,” Fox said.
Nationwide, about $50 million worth of imports have been flagged this year alone.
“I think that the best we can do is try to ensure that anything that is the product of forced labor doesn’t enter into US commerce,” Fox said. “The goal here is to get people out of modern-day slavery.”
Murat says despite the challenges ahead, she believes that day will come.
“I have hope,” Murat said. “I have hope in humanity and I have hope in my government.”
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