WASHINGTON — A bill passed on July 14 by the US Senate has banned all products from Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China, over the abuse of the rights in that region.
The steps were taken by the US to punish China on the grounds of forced labor and the genocide of the Uyghurs and the other minorities in the region.
Senator Marco Rubio from Florida introduced the legislation with Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. They said in a statement after the passage of the bill that the message to Beijing “and any international company that profits from forced labor in Xinjiang is clear: no more.”
They said that the US would “not turn a blind eye” to the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s “crimes against humanity,” nor “allow corporations a free pass to profit from those horrific abuses.”
“Last night, the Senate passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act,” tweeted Merkley. “American shelves shouldn’t be stocked with products made by forced labor, and we cannot stay silent in the face of genocide. I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this bill quickly.”
Merkley said that Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang “are being forced into labor, tortured, imprisoned, forcibly sterilized, and pressured to abandon their religious and cultural practices by the Chinese government.”
“No American corporation should profit from these abuses,” Merkley said. “No American consumers should be inadvertently purchasing products from slave labor.”
Xinjiang products are deeply integrated into lucrative global supply chains, and Nike and Coca-Cola were among the major companies to have lobbied against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
In recent weeks, the Joseph R. Biden administration stepped up sanctions against China’s government and blacklisted companies allegedly tied to the Chinese military or implicated in the genocide.
This bill would go beyond steps taken already to secure US supply chains in the face of allegations of rights abuses in China.
The administration updated an advisory on July 13 warning that businesses with supply chains and investments in the Chinese region of Xinjiang run a “high risk” of violating US laws on forced labor.
The bill must also pass the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law. It was not immediately clear when that might take place.
China has been accused of committing crimes against humanity and possibly genocide against the Uyghur population and other mostly-Muslim ethnic groups in the north-western region of Xinjiang.
The US is one of the many countries that have accused China of committing genocide in Xinjiang. The leading human rights groups Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have published reports accusing China of crimes against humanity.
(With inputs from ANI)
(Edited by Amrita Das and Ritaban Misra)
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