US House votes to clamp down on imports from China's Xinjiang

Business Thursday 09/December/2021 13:12 PM
By: DW
US House votes to clamp down on imports from China's Xinjiang

Washington: The US House of Representatives Wednesday voted 428-1 to ban imports from the Xinjiang region of China where authorities have been accused of running forced labor and concentration camps as well as committing acts of genocide against the Uyghur Muslim minority.

The "Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act" would ban imports from Xinjiang unless the US government can determine the products in were not made with forced labor.

China denies rights abuses are taking place and instead insists Uyghurs have been relocated to re-education camps.

The bill creates a "rebuttable presumption" that all goods produced in Xinjiang were made using forced labor.

Corporations must be able to offer "clear and convincing evidence" that products from Xinjiang did not use forced labor during production.

Additionally, the bill calls for sanctions to be imposed on foreign entities and individuals who "knowingly" helped facilitate the use of Uyghur forced labor.

However, it is notoriously difficult for foreign entities to verify the conditions of production facilities in China.

Products made in Xinjiang are fully integrated in global supply chains and major corporations including Coca-Cola and Nike have lobbied unsuccessfully to prevent the bill's passage.

The bill must now pass the Senate and be signed by US President Joe Biden for it to take effect. However, it is unclear if it has White House support.

Furthermore, the US Senate has previously approved a similar measure and the two will now need reconciling.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers ahead of the vote that Beijing is "orchestrating a brutal and accelerating campaign of repression against the Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities."

Earlier this year, Biden had warned businesses who are involved in Xinjiang run a "high risk" that they could run afoul of US laws on forced labor

The bill and its near-unanimous bipartisan approval come days after the US announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics this winter over human rights concerns in Xinjiang.

"In Xinjiang, and across China, millions are enduring outrageous human rights abuses: from mass surveillance and disciplinary policing; to mass torture including solitary confinement and forced sterilizations; intimidation of journalists and activists who is have dared to expose the truth," Pelosi said.

The US House also passed a resolution Wednesday condemning the "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity" taking place in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs.