On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved legislation to ban imports from China’s Xinjiang. This is the latest attempt by Washington to punish Beijing over what U.S. officials call a continuing genocide against Uyghurs.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would create a “rebuttable assumption” that goods made in Xinjiang with forced labor are prohibited under the 1930 Tariff Act unless otherwise certified.
The bipartisan measure was passed unanimously. It would shift the burden for proof to importers. If there is sufficient evidence of forced labor, the current rule prohibits imports.
Before the bill can be sent to President Joe Biden for him to sign, it must pass the House of Representatives. It wasn’t immediately clear when this might occur.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced the legislation along with Democrat Jeff Merkley. He called for the House to quickly act.
Rubio stated in a statement that “we will not turn our blind eyes to the CCP’s ongoing crimes against humanity” and that corporations will not be allowed to profit from these horrific abuses.
These abuses should not be profited by American corporations. Merkley stated that no American consumer should inadvertently purchase products made from slave labor.
Aides to both Democrats and Republicans said that they expect the measure will get strong support from the House. This is despite the fact that the House approved a similar measure almost unanimously last year.
This bill would go far beyond the existing steps taken to protect U.S. supply chain security in the face of allegations that rights abuses have occurred in China. It would also include existing bans on Xinjiang tomato, cotton, and certain solar products.
Biden’s administration has increased sanctions and issued an advisory Tuesday warning businesses that they could be violating U.S. law if their operations are connected to surveillance networks in Xinjiang.
Researchers, rights groups, former residents, and some Western officials claim that Xinjiang authorities facilitate forced labor by holding around a million Uyghurs, and other primarily Muslim minorities, since 2016.