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Chong Urges Canada to Join US in Halting Chinese Slave Labour Goods

Canada should align with U.S. Customs in limiting the entry of products from China, manufactured under slave labour conditions, said Conservative MP Michael Chong during his address to a United States Congressional committee on Sept 12.

Mr. Chong said Canada must not be a final destination for products that have been manufactured using slave labour, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

“We are part of a North American free trade zone,” he said. “We can’t be the place where these products have a back door to come in. That is another example where I think we could work much more closely with a democracy like the United States to learn how to implement these sorts of bans.”

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In his testimony before the Congressional Executive Commission on China, Mr. Chong pointed out that U.S. Customs has halted numerous shipments of products made using forced labour, such as apparel, shoes, and solar panels.

“In Canada we have yet to seize one shipment,” he said. “There was a single shipment that was seized but later released.”

During a Commons foreign affairs hearing, it was revealed that in 2021 in Quebec, the Canada Border Services Agency briefly stopped a shipping container carrying China-manufactured clothes. According to official estimates, Canadian ports process approximately 1.8 million shipping containers each year.

Former U.S. secretary of the interior, Republican congressman Ryan Zinke, queried how merchandise made with slave labour could be labelled as environmentally friendly.

“A concern when you talk about green technologies is electric vehicles,” said Mr. Zinke. “It sounds so nice. I’m all for ‘cleaner is better,’ et cetera, but I’m concerned about the supply chain. It seems like we’re pushing an agenda without looking at the engine behind it and the engine seems to be Chinese.”

Mr. Chong shares this concern. He sponsored a Commons resolution in 2021 condemning China for atrocities like forced labour. During the debate on the motion, MPs were informed that Chinese slave labour is used in 20 percent of the world’s cotton production, 32 percent of canned tomato products, and 41 percent of polysilicon production, a key raw material used in the manufacture of solar panels.

Global Brands

In July 2020, the government revised the Canada Customs Tariff to forbid the entry of products made entirely or partially through forced labour.

Several investigations, including some by U.N. human rights experts, have uncovered compelling evidence indicating that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, while undergoing detention in re-education facilities, are experiencing state-mandated forced labour in factories.

According to those experts, numerous widely recognized global brands are allegedly linked to businesses and factories involved in these unethical practices.

“Many businesses are also implicated in these allegations, either directly or through their supply chains. Businesses must not turn a blind eye to this and must conduct meaningful human rights due diligence in line with the UN Guiding Principles,” said Surya Deva, vice chairperson of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

In 2020, the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission said global commerce was “tainted with goods and products made with forced labour” in China.

Companies implicated by the commission included Adidas, Calvin Klein, Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola, Costco, Kraft Heinz, Nike, and Tommy Hilfiger, suspected of “directly employing forced labour or sourcing from suppliers suspected of using forced labour.”

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