The law allows the United States to crack down on goods manufactured using forced labor and allows President Joe Biden’s administration to sanction traffickers of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
The United States House of Representatives on Thursday reintroduced a bipartisan law banning imports from China’s Xinjiang region unless confirmed that they are not made using forced labor and allowing further sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for abuses against Muslims are.
The updated version of the legislation that House 406-3 passed in the last Congress in September resembles a Senate version reintroduced last month after being held up in the previous session.
The House of Representatives bill would empower the US president to impose sanctions on anyone responsible for trafficking in minority Uyghurs or other Muslims in Xinjiang, a leading producer of cotton and cotton products.
It would also require financial disclosures from US publicly traded companies about their involvement with Chinese companies and companies involved in abuses, a provision that the Senate version does not include.
“We were horrified to see how the Chinese government first created and then expanded a system of out-of-court mass internment camps for Uyghurs and Muslim minorities,” said Democratic representative Jim McGovern as he reintroduced the law. He accused the Xinjiang economy of “being built on a foundation of forced labor and repression.”
“Many US, international and Chinese companies have been involved in the exploitation of forced labor, and these products continue to find their way into global supply chains and into our country. It’s been a long time since Congress acted, ”he said.
A United Nations panel announced in 2018 that it had received credible reports that at least one million Muslims were detained in camps in Xinjiang. China denies abuses, saying its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.
At the heart of the US bills is a “rebuttable presumption” that goods from Xinjiang are made with forced labor and banned from the US unless there is “clear and convincing” evidence to the contrary.
While the legislation has had strong bipartisan support, congressional aides say it has been the target of lobbying companies with supply chain links in Xinjiang.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton called China’s government “a new bad empire” and beat up some American companies for defying the bills.
“I find it shameful that some corporate executives in America have lobbied against sanctions against Chinese officials for the use of slave labor in Xinjiang Province over the past year, and they don’t want to be responsible for their own supply chains in China,” Cotton said during one Event about a new report he published on the fight against China.
“If I were a corporate leader in America, I’d pack and get out,” he said.
The Biden administration endorsed a statement by the administration of former President Donald Trump that China had committed genocide in Xinjiang and said the US should be ready to impose costs on those responsible.
Trump imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and companies related to ill-treatment in Xinjiang, and also announced a ban on cotton and tomato products from the region.