Although the Biden administration has maintained some of the strict policies implemented by former President Donald Trump regarding trade with China, it appears that the communist nation has been able to find a way around a ban on exporting products made in slave labor facilities.
According to a new report, a number of markets throughout the D.C. area and beyond have been selling fruit packaged by Uyghur Muslims enslaved in the Xinjiang province of China.
"Twenty percent of the world’s red dates come from the Uyghur Region and are likely the products of forced labor," said Nuzigum Setiwaldi, the author of the @UyghurProject report.
Red dates made with forced labor continue to be sold in American stores.https://t.co/Yd4cX9NIcX
— Uyghur Human Rights Project (@UyghurProject) September 7, 2022
More than two dozen GOP legislators are demanding answers from the White House in an effort to determine how the goods made it into the U.S. and onto store shelves. Such imports are strictly prohibited by the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which passed in Congress and was signed into effect by President Joe Biden earlier this year.
The jujube dates reportedly originated with a sanctioned Chinese company, which was able to offload the packages to another company that in turn delivered them to a distributor in New York.
In addition to stores throughout the U.S., reports indicate Amazon also offered the dates for sale on its site.
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) echoed the concerns of the other lawmakers who signed a letter earlier this week, telling the Washington Free Beacon that such a scheme is not only illegal but “morally abhorrent.”
He noted that federal regulators have “been directed by Congress to ensure no goods made in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are permitted to enter American markets, and the presence of these red dates in American grocery stores is a clear failure by the Biden administration to enforce this law.”
Even though the Chinese company, XPCC, has been the subject of sanctions since 2020, the packages found for sale in the U.S. clearly indicated that it was the original producer.
The lawmakers’ letter notes that some of the packages are “labeled with XPCC branding — a logo of XPCC soldiers saluting a red communist banner.”
With imports from the sanctioned region at “a two-year high” despite the implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, the lawmakers concluded that Customs and Border Protection does not appear to be taking its responsibility seriously enough.
The letter requests a precise accounting of how many shipments of the off-limits packages have been imported since the sanctions were implemented as well as an explanation for the apparent absence of penalties for XPCC.