Chinese Foreign Ministry (FM) said on Monday that the US authority's detaining of a quantity of seafood which was caught by a Chinese fishing firm citing so-called "use of forced labor" is groundless and comical given that the firm in question has never sold anything to the US.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)'s claims as "forced labor," "crew abuse" and "salary deduction" are completely inconsistent with facts and are purely fabricated, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson of the FM said during a press conference on Monday.
The remarks followed the CBP on Friday issued a withhold release order against Dalian Ocean Fishing Co, citing "forced labor" within the company's fishing operations, according to a statement on the bureau's website.
The CBP said it will immediately impound a catch of tuna, swordfish and other products from the entity at US ports of entry. It's worth noting that it's the first time that the CBP banned an entire fleet of fishing vessels, as opposed to individual vessels targeted in the past.
Many workers on the vessels are Indonesians, Reuters reported, citing CBP officials.
"Dalian Ocean Fishing Co has never sold anything to the US, while the US said it will deal with these cases seriously. In fact, there is no product to be detained, and the so-called 'forced labor' claim is groundless," Wang said.
"According to my knowledge, the Chinese firm involved in the issue has complied with law and rules, and it has strict and comprehensive management mechanism, earning a good reputation in the industry," he noted, adding that the "crew abuse" claim is also making something out of nothing.
The technical standards and modernization of tuna fishing boats are relatively high, and the operation process is basically automated, so there is no need for labor-intensive practices, according to Wang.
Established in 2000, Dalian Ocean Fishing Co is a leading ultra-low temperature long-line premium tuna fishing company headquartered in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. It operates a fleet of 33 ultra-low temperature long-line fishing vessels, according to an introduction on the company website.
The US has been attacking China with such irresponsible and groundless claims as "forced labor" for some time, aiming to clamp down on Chinese firms and industries, and China has repeatedly denied with abundant evidence.
"China firmly opposes political manipulation and calls on the US to respect basic facts and revoke erroneous decisions. China will take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises," the spokesperson stressed.