Australia Joins U.S., U.K. in Warning Firms Over Xinjiang Ties

Australia Joins U.S., U.K. in Warning Firms Over Xinjiang Ties

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This photo taken on October 14, 2018 shows farmers picking cotton in a field in Hami in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.
This photo taken on October 14, 2018 shows farmers picking cotton in a field in Hami in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. (STR/)

(Bloomberg) — Australia joined allies including the U.S. and the U.K. in raising concern about the use of products from China’s Xinjiang region in global supply chains.

Local companies that source goods from the area need to properly check supply chain and suppiers, Foreign Minister Marise Payne was quoted as telling the Australian Financial Review in an interview.

Governments are seeking to raise pressure on China over the treatment of its ethnic Uighur Muslim minority. The U.S. says China has detained more than one million Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in “re-education” camps. Beijing has repeatedly rejected the claims, arguing that it is fighting separatism and religious extremism in the region.

The U.K. this month said it would fine companies if they cover up imports from Xinjiang, while the U.S. this week moved to bar entry of all cotton products and tomatoes from the region, citing concerns over forced labor.

Read more: China Criticizes U.S. Ban on Xinjiang Goods Over Forced Labor

Australia shares the serious concerns of international partners, such as the U.K., about human rights abuses in Xinjiang, “including in relation to forced labor and arbitrary detention,” the newspaper quoted Payne as saying . Australian companies sourcing products from Xinjiang need to “undertake due diligence into their supply chains and suppliers,” the minister said in the report.

Relations between Canberra and China, its key trading partner, have deteriorated since 2018, when Huawei Technologies Co. was barred from building a 5G network in Australia, and worsened last year after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government called for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

China last year ordered traders to stop purchasing a raft of Australian commodities, including coal, barley, sugar, timber, wine and lobster.

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