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Five companies or industrial parks in Xinjiang and one company in eastern Anhui province, which make apparel, cotton, computer and hair products, have been named in the new order by United States Customs and Border Protection (US CBP).

One of Xinjiang’s “vocational skills education and training centers” is also named in the order, a name used euphemistically by Beijing to refer to the large re-education camps where inmates from Muslim minorities are allegedly detained, made to pledge loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party, and work as free or low-cost forced labor in factories and nearby facilities.

“This is not a vocational center, it is a concentration camp,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland. “A place where religious and ethnic minorities are subject to abuse and forced to work in heinous conditions with no recourse and no freedom. This is modern day slavery.”

The agency issued “Withhold Release Orders” for all six Chinese entities, which are intended to prevent goods suspected to have been made with forced labor from entering the US. The orders allow Customs and Border Protection to detain shipments at US ports and gives companies the opportunity to export their shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

The new US actions fell short of what some had expected to be a more widespread ban on imports from China, which would have targeted all cotton and tomato products exported from the Xinjiang region to the US. Cuccinelli said that stronger action was still under review by the US administration.

“Because of its unique nature applying to a region, as opposed to a company or a facility, we are giving that more legal analysis,” he said, adding that the agency wants to ensure “once we proceed that it will stick.”

Cuccinelli denied that the delay in the regional order had anything to do with concerns about hurting the US-China trade deal.

US action on Xinjiang

The US trade action is the latest in a series of steps by the Trump administration targeting Chinese authorities and businesses over allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Up to 2 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang have been imprisoned in mass re-education centers, including huge numbers of the Uyghur people, according to the US State Department, with reports emerging from the camps of abuse, indoctrination and sterilization.

The Chinese government has described the centers as voluntary and part of a wide-reaching deradicalization campaign.

In July, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on several Xinjiang officials, including Chen Quanguo, the region’s Communist Party secretary, saying the US would “not stand idly by as the (Chinese Communist Party) carries out human rights abuses.”
One month earlier, US President Donald Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Act into law, condemning the Chinese Communist Party for human rights abuses in the region.

Recently, US CBP has stepped up its efforts targeting forced labor — issuing 12 orders in fiscal year 2020, including eight focused on goods from China.

The new orders targeting forced labor in China followed two years of investigations by US CBP, according to Mark Morgan, the senior official performing the duties of the commissioner at the US CBP.

“It’s been the most aggressive year in using CBP’s authorities to fight forced labor in its history that I know of,” said Cuccinelli.

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Poisoned Navalny plots his return, but Russia’s opposition activists wonder who might be next

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It’s not just Navalny who has been under attack.

Just one day after he emerged from his medically-induced coma, at least three volunteers linked to his team were targeted at their office in Novosibirsk, Siberia.

Two masked men were recorded by security cameras, bursting in to the office of “Coalition Novosibirsk 2020,” which is also headquarters of Navalny’s local team.

One of them threw a bottle containing an unknown yellow liquid — described to CNN as a “pungent chemical”, “unbearable” by witnesses — at volunteers who were there for a lecture about the upcoming local elections, before running off.

The Kremlin has denied having anything to do with the attacks, but analysts are skeptical.

“Russia has a track record of sudden deaths among the Kremlin’s critics: Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Nemtsov, to name but a few,” says longtime Russia analyst Valeriy Akimenko from the Conflict Studies Research Centre, an independent research group. “If this wasn’t a murder plot or assassination attempt, it was an act of intimidation.”

Which raises an important question: How much immediate danger is Navalny in, if and when he does return to Russia?

“I don’t think the words safety or security apply to anyone who is opposition in Russia,” says Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition politician and chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, who has been poisoned twice in the past five years.

“I can have as much protection as I like, but I have to touch doorknobs and breathe air,” he says. “The only real precautionary measure I’ve been able to take is to get my family out of the country.”

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in either of the attacks on Kara-Murza, though his wife has directly accused the Russian government of bearing responsibility.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle has also denied any involvement in Navalny’s poisoning, but Akimenko points out that the language coming from the Kremlin in the weeks since has hardly been reassuring, given the near-death of a prominent politician.

“Just look at what’s been coming out of Russia,” he says. “Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying no need for Putin to meet Navalny; Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying no legal grounds for a criminal inquiry; Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin talking instead about an investigation into possible foreign provocation; and on state TV, ceaseless attempts to muddy the waters by blaming anyone but the Russian state.”

As if being an outspoken opponent of the government wasn’t enough of a risk for Navalny, other Putin critics believe that what is being seen as a failed assassination attempt, in order to scare opponents, might have backfired.

“Now that Alexey Navalny has survived, this may prove to be a spectacular miscalculation that only empowers the opposition and Navalny,” says Bill Browder, a prominent financier who became a thorn in the side of Putin after leading the push for a US sanctions act named after Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who died under suspicious circumstances in a Russian prison.

Kara-Murza points out that in the very area of Siberia where the campaign office attack took place, Navalny’s allies made gains against Putin’s ruling United Russia in elections this past weekend.

“When Russians have a real choice, they are very happy to demonstrate how sick they are of Putin’s one-man rule,” he told CNN.

Whenever he does return to Russia, the risk both to him and his supporters is likely to remain very high; has this affected the opposition’s morale?

“Putin rules by symbolism,” says Browder. “To take the most popular opposition politician and poison him with a deadly nerve agent is intended to scare the less popular ones into submission.”

So, will it work?

Kara-Murza says the Putin critic Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated near the Kremlin in February 2015, just days before he was due to take part in an anti-government protest in Moscow, used to tell his allies: “We must do what we must and come what may. Of course, we understand the dangers, but we are determined, not scared.”

And while Akimenko says: “If Russia’s opposition leaders aren’t worried, they should be,” he adds that: “They have been fearless in the face of both personal physical attacks against Navalny and persecution disguised as prosecution.”

The Navalny episode revealed the dangers of political opposition in Russia to the world.

But for those actively involved in that fight, it has merely underscored the threat they already knew existed, says Kara-Murza

“I was poisoned twice,” he said. “Both times I was in [a] coma. Both times doctors told my wife I had 5% chance of living. Boris Nemtsov had 0% when he was shot in the back. But it’s not about safety; it’s about doing the right thing for our country. It would be too much of a gift to the Kremlin if those of us who stand in opposition gave up and ran.”

CNN’s Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report from Moscow

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Engel subpoenas head of government’s foreign broadcast media agencies

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Pack has previously insisted his personnel changes were a routine part of new leadership at a large organization.

A spokesperson for U.S. Agency for Global Media on Friday said Pack couldn’t attend due to a conflict with the original hearing date.

“Michael Pack is disappointed that the Committee has decided to escalate the situation,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Pack is eager to testify before the Committee to talk about the critical work of USAGM and to answer Members’ questions.”

Engel recently subpoenaed the State Department for documents connected to GOP Sen. Ron Johnson’s investigation of Joe Biden’s relationships in Ukraine, a probe that Democrats say is politically motivated and potentially tainted by Russian disinformation.

Engel is also probing Trump’s decision earlier this year to fire State Department inspector general Steve Linick.

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Every Local Authority Subject To New Restrictions Across Great Britain

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Some areas of the UK are currently subject to stricter coronavirus restrictions (PA)


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Coronavirus hotspots across the UK have been subjected to localised lockdown restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of the virus—use PoliticsHome’s interactive map to find out what restrictions apply where.

 

Each of the UK’s four nations sets its own public health policies, meaning restrictions differ between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland

Selected postcodes in Northern Ireland are subject to localised restrictions as of 10 September. Visit nidirect.gov.uk to view the affected areas

Postcode areas may be added and removed from the local restrictions as the patterns of infection change, and further interventions and restrictions could be added as necessary.

Face coverings are compulsory on public transport, in shops and supermarkets, and in selected other indoor settings. They are also advised wherever social distancing is not possible. 

Individuals are advised to stay one metre apart from each other as of 29 June. Up to 15 people from different households can meet outdoors, and up to six people from two different households indoors.

Indoor settings such as non-essential retail, hairdressers, libraries, places of worship, and museums and galleries have been allowed to reopen.

There are no restrictions on domestic travel, except in some areas experiencing localised lockdowns. Those arriving from selected international destinations are required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

England

Face coverings are compulsory on public transport, in shops and supermarkets, and in selected other indoor settings such as museums, cinemas, galleries and places of worship. They are also advised wherever social distancing is not possible. 

Individuals are advised to stay two metres apart from each other but, where this is not possible, one metre is advised. 

Gatherings of more than six people are illegal both indoors and outdoors as of 14 September. Weddings and funerals can still go ahead with a limit of 30 people if conducted in a Covid-secure way.

Indoor settings such as non-essential retail, hairdressers, libraries, places of worship, and museums and galleries have been allowed to reopen. Nightclubs have not been allowed to reopen.

People are no longer encouraged to work from home as of 1 August, but workplaces must follow Covid-secure guidelines if they plan to reopen.

There are no restrictions on domestic travel, except in some areas experiencing localised lockdowns. Those arriving from selected international destinations are required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Scotland

Face coverings are compulsory on public transport, in shops and supermarkets, and in selected other indoor settings. They are also advised wherever social distancing is not possible. 

Individuals are advised to stay two metres apart from each other. Gatherings of more than six people are illegal both indoors and outdoors as of 14 September, except for children under 11.

Indoor settings such as non-essential retail, hairdressers, libraries, places of worship, and museums and galleries have been allowed to reopen.

There are no restrictions on domestic travel, except in some areas experiencing localised lockdowns. Those arriving from selected international destinations are required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Wales

Face coverings are compulsory on public transport, in shops and supermarkets, and in selected other indoor settings. They are also advised wherever social distancing is not possible. 

Individuals are advised to stay two metres apart from each other. People can only gather in groups of up to six indoors and must all belong to the same extended household group. Up to four households are able to join together to form an extended household. Children under 11 are exempt.

Indoor settings such as non-essential retail, hairdressers, libraries, places of worship, and museums and galleries have been allowed to reopen.

There are no restrictions on domestic travel, except in some areas experiencing localised lockdowns. Those arriving from selected international destinations are required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

 

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