Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that DHS’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order against Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd., a company located in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The Withhold Release Order instructs personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to immediately begin to detain shipments containing silica-based products made by Hoshine and its subsidiaries.
“As President Biden made clear at the recent G7 summit, the United States will not tolerate modern-day slavery in our supply chains,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “This Withhold Release Order demonstrates we continue to protect human rights and international labor standards and promote a more fair and competitive global marketplace by fulfilling the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ending forced labor.”
The Withhold Release Order applies to silica-based products made by Hoshine and its subsidiaries as well as to materials and goods (such as polysilicon) derived from or produced using those silica-based products. Silica is a raw material that is used to make components for solar panels, electronics, and other goods.
“Forced labor is a human rights abuse that hurts vulnerable workers, weakens the global economy, and exposes consumers to unethically made merchandise,” said Troy Miller, CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner. “CBP will continue to set a high global standard by aggressively investigating allegations of forced labor in U.S. supply chains and keeping tainted merchandise out of the United States.”
CBP issued a Withhold Release Order based on information reasonably indicating that Hoshine uses forced labor to manufacture silica-based products. This Withhold Release Order was issued following an investigation into silica-based products imported into the United States from the Xinjiang region. During the investigation, CBP identified two of the International Labour Organization’s indicators of forced labor in Hoshine’s production process: intimidation and threats, and restriction of movement.
During the 47th G7 summit earlier this month, the United States and G7 countries committed to removing forced labor from global supply chains. This Withhold Release Order on Hoshine is the latest in a series of actions the United States has taken to address forced labor and other human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. Further, in June 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor added polysilicon from Xinjiang to its List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor and the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed additional license requirements on the export, reexport, or in-country transfer of goods from certain Xinjiang-based polysilicon producers due to concerns about those entities’ use of forced labor. More information about these efforts is available here.
Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor under penal sanctions, including forced or indentured child labor. CBP investigates allegations of forced labor in U.S. supply chains and issues Withhold Release Orders that instruct personnel at ports of entry to detain shipments that contain goods suspected of being made by forced labor. Withhold Release Orders are not outright bans. Pursuant to U.S. regulations, importers of detained shipments have an opportunity to demonstrate that the merchandise was not imported in violation of section 1307 or to export their shipments.
CBP’s forced labor investigations have produced six Withhold Release Orders in Fiscal Year 2021, including one on cotton and tomato products from the Xinjiang region and another on cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. Eight of the 13 Withhold Release Orders that CBP issued in Fiscal Year 2020 were on goods made by forced labor in China. The full list of Withhold Release Orders is available at CBP.gov.
Read more here.