U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have prepared orders to block imports of cotton and tomato products from China’s western region of Xinjiang over accusations of forced labor, though a formal announcement has been delayed.
A Trump administration announcement, initially expected on Tuesday, has been put off until later this week because of “scheduling issues,” an agency spokesman said.
The cotton and tomato bans, and those on five other imports, over alleged Xinjiang forced-labor abuses, would be an unprecedented move by the agency, likely to stoke tension between the world’s two largest economies.
The “Withhold Release Orders” let the agency detain shipments based on suspicion of forced-labor involvement under long-standing U.S. laws to combat human trafficking, child labor and other human rights abuses.
President Donald Trump’s administration is ratcheting up pressure on China over its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, where the United Nations cites credible reports as saying 1 million Muslims held in camps have been put to work.
China denies mistreatment of the Uighurs and says the camps are vocational training centers needed to fight extremism.