Congress passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act through unanimous consent after it was approved by the House. The bill will bar imports from the Xinjiang region of China unless businesses prove that they were manufactured without the use of forced labor.
The bill has thus overcome the reluctance of the White House and also resistance to the bill from large corporations having dealt in that region. This measure comes as other measures are being adopted by the Biden administration over the widespread and systemic abuse of religious and ethnic minorities.
This abuse has been detected mostly in the Xinjiang region against the Uyghur minorities. The Uyghurs are predominantly Muslims. Several Chinese surveillance and biotech companies were the first to be targeted. The list also includes a leading manufacturer of drones and several government entities, sanctioned by the Biden administration for their acts in the Xinjiang region.
The vote in Congress now will send the Uyghur bill to the President. Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary said that the president was supportive of the measures. The White House has for months declined on taking a public position on the earlier version of this piece of legislation.
The US has alleged that China is leading a systemic abuse of the Uyghur minorities. Journalists and rights groups say mass detention camps on the line of concentration camps and forced sterilization were commonly used methods to subjugate the Uyghurs. China has maintained that it was only trying to quell a pro-independence movement and terrorist activity.
The US Congress Has Cited Numerous Industries That Profit From Forced Labor
Congress has said that cotton, tomato products, fishing gear, viscose and silicone, and solar energy components are manufactured with the use of forced labor.
Companies reaping huge profits from their China operation including Apple and Nike have said that they haven’t found any evidence of forced labor.
Nury Turkel, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and also the vice-chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom said that China can be made to toe the line only through economic measures. He praised the American Congress for sending out coherent messages on the matter.
Congress has noted that forced labor has long been a systematic part of the Chinese economy.