Rubio Consumer Advocate Call For Probe Into Chinese Online Retailers Over Alleged Forced Labor Use And Hazardous Products

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and consumer advocacy groups are demanding a federal investigation into Chinese online retailers Shein and Temu, citing concerns over anti-competitive practices, the alleged use of forced labor, and the sale of products that may not meet U.S. safety standards. The companies have spent billions on advertising with American social media platforms like Meta and Google while offering products at prices significantly lower than their U.S. counterparts.

Critics argue that Shein and Temu, backed by the Chinese Communist Party, are targeting vulnerable consumers such as children, low-income families, and older Americans with potentially hazardous products. Items listed for sale include beauty products for young women and girls for as low as a penny and kids clothing for less than $10, well below average prices offered by American direct-to-consumer merchants.

In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Rubio urged Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to investigate Shein and Temu and add them to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act list of violators, citing “compelling evidence” that the companies are facilitating the entry of goods made with Uyghur forced labor.

Robert Bork Jr., president of the Antitrust Education Project, accused the Chinese retailers of stealing market share from legitimate companies that follow safety regulations and don’t rely on forced labor. “China is spending billions of dollars to reach into the American retail market,” Bork told The Center Square, adding that using slave labor and disregarding consumers’ health to undercut reputable businesses is unacceptable.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has reported that Shein products may contain high levels of potentially hazardous chemicals and pose personal security risks related to potential data breaches. By shipping directly to consumers, the companies are able to avoid customs processes, import taxes and regulatory safety checks.