By Morgan Brown and Ines Chung
November 21, 2022
Companies in China that export products to the United States have signed agreements to expand the international distribution of food products originating from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The identified companies that are Xinjiang-based exhibit indicators of forced labor use.
The 7th China-Eurasia Expo, held in the Xinjiang capital of Ürümqi in September, showcased food products made in the region by businesses participating in government “poverty alleviation” programs. Chinese companies based in other regions of China agreed to deals at the Expo that will expand international distribution of food products from Xinjiang. Since June, U.S. imports of Xinjiang-origin goods have been affected by import restrictions associated with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).
Exports of Xinjiang-origin products into the global market through companies located outside of Xinjiang are only one scenario for possible evasion of the UFLPA restrictions. In May, Kharon reported that a seafood processing company located in China’s Shandong province which supplies large food distributors and retailers in the U.S. and Canada had accepted government-organized transfers of more than 100 workers from Xinjiang.
A Salmon Export Deal
One of the food companies at the Expo was Xinjiang Tianyun Organic Agriculture Co., Ltd., a fish farming and processing business that has participated in so-called “poverty alleviation programs” — a key indicator of potential forced labor of Uyghurs and Muslim minority groups, per the U.S. government’s Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory. Xinjiang Tianyun was named a “poverty alleviation base,” according to a Chinese government ministry’s website, and its business has been cited for its contributions to “poverty alleviation.”
During the Expo, Xinjiang Tianyun signed an agreement to supply farmed salmon worth 999 million yuan—approximately USD 140 million — to Dalian Rich Enterprise Group Co., Ltd., a local media report of the Expo indicates. The deal was intended to substantially increase international distribution of Xinjiang salmon.
“Dalian Rich mainly takes orders from foreign [companies] … Through this deal, Xinjiang salmon will reach many more customers,” a spokeswoman for Xinjiang Tianyun told the media outlet.
Dalian Rich, a seafood company based in the Chinese port city of Dalian in Liaoning province, sells frozen salmon to seafood processing companies in the U.S. and Canada, which in turn supply some of the largest supermarket chains in North America, according to trade data reviewed by Kharon.
Dalian Rich also sells its own products in North America and Europe under various brands, including salmon dumplings sold in the U.S. market under the brand of an American partner. The partner sells its products mainly in Asian grocery stores, based on information from its website.