US bans imports from Chinese fishing fleet over forced labor allegations
U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday imposed a new import ban on seafood from a Chinese fishing fleet that the agency says is using forced labor on its 32 vessels, including abuses against many Indonesian workers.
CBP said it will immediately detain tuna, swordfish and other products from the Dalian Ocean Fishing Co Ltd at U.S. ports of entry. The "withhold release order" banning the imports also applies to other end use products containing seafood from the company, such as canned tuna and pet food, a CBP official said.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the action marks the first time that CBP has banned imports from an entire fishing fleet, as opposed to individual vessels targeted in the past.
"DHS will continue to aggressively investigate the use of force labor by distant water fishing vessels, and by a wide range of other industries," Mayorkas told a news briefing. "Producers and U.S. importers alike should understand that there will be consequences for entities that attempt to exploit workers to sell goods in the United States."
CBP officials said the agency's investigation revealed that many Indonesian workers hired onto Dalian Ocean Fishing vessels found conditions far different than what they expected and were subjected to physical violence, withholding of pay, debt bondage and abusive working and living conditions.
Earlier this week, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai called attention to the issue of forced labor on fishing vessels, submitting a new proposal to the World Trade Organization to curb subsidies to illegal fishing and requiring that member countries recognize the problem.
U.S. imports from Dalian Ocean Fishing are small, amounting to just $233,000 in the 2020 fiscal year, CBP said.
But the issue of forced labor is a growing flashpoint in strained U.S.-China relations, after numerous recent import bans related to China's detention of Uyghur Muslims in the farwestern Xinjiang region. The move comes less than two days after Tai held an initial conversation with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
The Trump administration, during its last week in office in January, announced a sweeping import ban on all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations that they are produced with Uyghur forced labor - a far reaching move that would require apparel and textile industries to reorder their supply chains.
The US-led Indo-Pacific strategy is a ploy to create divisions and incite confrontation in the region, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said on Sunday, adding that the plan is bound to fail. “Facts will prove that the so-called Indo-Pacific strategy is in essence a strategy to create division, to incite confrontation and to undermine peace,” Wang said.
Days after the Taliban's latest order, women presenters on Afghanistan's top news channels went on air on Sunday with their faces covered. On Saturday, many of the news anchors had reportedly defied the diktat to conceal their appearance on TV but their employers had come under pressure. The Taliban's latest order was among the slew of restrictions, mostly targeting the rights of women and girls, they imposed since seizing powers of Afghanistan last year.
Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese, who will be sworn in as Australia's 31st prime minister on Monday, after his party won Saturday's federal elections, will, soon after Albanese's swearing-in, leave for Tokyo, Japan, to attend a summit of the Quad group of nations. However, Albanese will not be the only Labor leader to take oath of allegiance on the day; four other party MPs will also be sworn-in.
President Joe Biden said Sunday that recent cases of monkeypox that have been identified in Europe and the United States were something “to be concerned about.” In his first public comments on the disease, Biden added: “It is a concern in that if it were to spread it would be consequential." “They haven't told me the level of exposure yet but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,” Biden said.
The war between Russia and Ukraine is now heading to the fourth month, with no signs of peace. The ferocious fighting which began on February 24 has killed thousands of civilians, flattened cities and forced more than six million Ukrainians to flee the country. Having already abandoned its move to capture capital Kyiv, Russia is now all out to capture the eastern and southern parts of the war-torn country.