China Undercutting American Fishermen With Forced Labor: Rep. Smith Calls On Biden Admin To Stop Imports From Known Forced Labor Fisheries


Smith’s hearing and bipartisan letter exposes China’s use of forced labor in fishing fleets

WASHINGTON—A Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) hearing chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) on China’s use of forced labor in its deep sea fishing fleet and fish processing not only revealed how such fish taints our supply chain and hurts the US fishing industry, but also has prompted human rights and other nongovernmental organizations to petition the World Health Organization to act against the Chinese government’s illegal actions.

“China has created unfair, unethical competitive advantage for itself in the fishing industry, as in so many other industries, because it utilizes forced labor, undercutting American fishermen,” said Smith, the Chairman of the CECC.

“My groundbreaking October hearing revealed just how extensive China’s abuses are and how it has corrupted the entire supply chain, from bait to plate,” said Smith, who has held over 80 hearings on China’s human rights abuses.

“Regrettably, we also learned how the US government, as well as schools in various states, are subsidizing China’s forced labor fishing industry by purchasing tainted fish,” Smith continued. “Even with fish caught in US waters, some 40 percent is shipped to China and then imported back to the United States.”

“Importing goods produced with forced labor is illegal, and by putting a stop to it, we would not only help stomp out a modern form of slavery, but we potentially could help revitalize an American fishing industry that has been undercut by China using such forced labor,” Smith said.

Smith said after the hearing he and cochair Senator Jeff Merkley called on the Biden Administration to take action and make sure that American “taxpayer dollars are no longer subsidizing this modern slavery at the expense of our fishermen.”

The Smith-Merkley letter demanded that Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issue orders to stop the importation of seafood from all Chinese processing facilities that have been identified as using forced labor.

Just weeks after Smith’s hearing, advocacy groups issued their own petitions to US Customs and Border Protection urging them to stop seafood from two notorious Chinese fishing vessels from entering the US supply chain.

“The complicity of governments—including our own—in the procurement of tainted seafood from the Chinese Communist Party needs to end,” Smith said. “I will continue to fight this horrific abuse of workers while also fighting for more opportunities for American fishermen to cast a wider net by working to bring jobs back to America.”

Banner Image:  Commercial fishing. Image Credit – NOAA


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