By JOE McDONALD
BEIJING (AP) China on Thursday demanded Washington drop a ban on cotton and tomato imports from its Muslim northwest over complaints they are produced by forced labor, which a spokesman dismissed as the lie of the century.
The ban announced Wednesday adds to a flurry of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against Chinese officials, companies and goods over human rights, security and other complaints.
Its commercial impact is unclear, but Beijing is sensitive to criticism about the Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been confined in detention camps. Beijing denies mistreating them and says it is trying to promote economic development and stamp out radicalism.
The so-called forced labor issue is a lie of the century fabricated out of thin air, said a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian. He accused the United States of wanting to hurt Chinese companies and the countrys development.
A man walks past a poster with the slogans “World Peace” and “Ethnic Unity” in Beijing, China Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. A Chinese official on Monday denied Beijing has imposed coercive birth control measures among Muslim minority women, following an outcry over a tweet by the Chinese Embassy in Washington claiming that government polices had freed women of the Uighur ethnic group from being “baby-making machines.” (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)