US halts imports of Xinjiang cotton and tomatoes

The United States has halted imports of cotton and tomato products from China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region based on information that it says reasonably indicates the use of forced labor.

The US Department of Homeland Security issued a statement on Wednesday saying it "will not tolerate the Chinese government's exploitation of modern slavery to import goods into the United States below fair market value." It added, "Imports made on the cheap by using forced labor hurt American businesses."

The move is an expansion of the department's import bans imposed on claims that ethnic minority Uighurs are being illegally detained and forced to work.

Also on Wednesday, the department unveiled a strategic action plan to confront threats from China.

The plan calls for tighter crackdowns on cyberattacks, violation of intellectual property rights and illegal drug sales.

The administration of President Donald Trump launched a special team of officials from the Homeland Security and Justice departments and the FBI to counter Chinese threats.

Observers say the incoming US administration is expected to take similar measures.