Seafood production soars in Uyghurland despite U.S. sanctions over Uyghur forced labor

The Uyghur homeland, central to allegations of forced labor in China’s seafood industry, has markedly increased its seafood production.

The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, or Bingtuan, a corporate unit of the Chinese army, reported a production value of CNY 112 million (USD 15.6 million, EUR 14.5 million) in Q1 2024, up 12.4 percent year over year, driven by rising output of crab, crayfish, and sturgeon.

Products made in the Uyghur homeland or suspected of being made with forced Uyghur labor are banned from entering the U.S. under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). The U.S. Department of Homeland Security lists Chinese companies that conduct business in the region or employ Uyghur labor.

An October 2023 report by the Outlaw Ocean Project revealed that seafood processed with Uyghur labor is entering the U.S. supply chain, prompting several U.S. seafood purchasers to sever ties with processors in Shandong province and leading to a Magnitsky Sanctions recommendation.

The Chinese government has hindered the work of auditing firms investigating labor issues in Uyghur supply chains. Seafood sustainability eco-label programs have also faced criticism for failing to identify the use of Uyghur labor in Chinese seafood-processing plants, leading to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council‘s withdrawal from the Chinese market in March.

On 30 April, U.S. Labor Department Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee testified that Beijing had made it “essentially illegal” to conduct independent human rights audits in the Uyghur homeland, stating that the only responsible action was to cease operations in such an environment.



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