A fishing boat is seen from an aircraft of the Ecuadorian navy after a fishing fleet of mostly Chinese-flagged ships was detected in an international corridor that borders the Galapagos Islands' exclusive economic zone, in the Pacific Ocean August 7, 2020. Picture taken August 7, 2020. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos

China Says US Seafood Ban Is Based On Lies

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June 1, 2021

By Shamim Adam (Bloomberg) A decision by the U.S. to ban imports of seafood from Dalian Ocean Fishing is based on “lies” that the Chinese company used forced labor, according to the Communist Party-backed Global Times.

The paper on Saturday cited experts who said the U.S. is widening its move against Chinese industries after allegations of forced labor by companies in the Xinjiang region.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday said it will detain imports of seafood from Dalian Ocean with immediate effect. It’s the first such action against an entire fleet of vessels, after an investigation showed the company operated under all 11 of the International Labour Organization’s indicators of forced labor, including physical violence, withholding of wages, and abusive working and living conditions.

The Department of Homeland Security “will continue to aggressively investigate the use of forced labor by distant-water fishing vessels and by a wide range of other industries,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on a call with reporters. “Producers and U.S. importers alike should understand that there will be consequences for entities that attempt to exploit workers to sell goods in the United States.”

In January, the U.S. began barring entry of all cotton products and tomatoes from Xinjiang. The U.S., European Union and U.K. have placed sanctions on Chinese officials and goods over alleged human-rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang. China denies any forced labor, calling it the “biggest lie of the century,” and says its policies are lifting the region out of poverty.

Dalian Ocean is headquartered in China’s Liaoning province. On its website, the company said it focuses on catching and selling premium tuna and operates a fleet of 33 ultra-low temperature long-line fishing vessels. It cited teamwork as a “crucial element” of its corporate culture and called the talent of its workforce as an important resource.

Personnel at all U.S. ports of entry are authorized to detain swordfish, tuna and other seafood harvested by vessels owned and operated by Dalian Ocean.

There was no immediate response to calls and an email sent to the company outside of business hours.

The International Labour Organization estimates that 25 million workers suffer under conditions of forced labor worldwide, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Some foreign companies exploit such labor in order to sell goods below market value, hurting law-abiding businesses, threatening American jobs, and leading consumers to making unethical purchases, it said.

–With assistance from Jenny Leonard.

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