(Washington) The US Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a law banning the import into the United States of a wide range of products manufactured in China’s Xinjiang province in an effort to combat forced labor by the Uyghur minority.
The adoption of the text is considered a victory for the supporters of the aggressive policy aimed at combating the violation of human rights. The vote came despite a lobbying campaign by companies that claimed the legislation would disrupt global supply chains, which are already under pressure from the pandemic.
The text is now on President Joe Biden’s desk for signature.
It is the first time that a country has taken such a step.
The text states that products made in whole or in part in Xinjiang are prohibited, unless companies are able to provide customs officials with proof that the products were not made with forced labor.
“Many companies have already taken steps to clean up their supply chains,” said Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida and one of the bill’s authors.
He stressed the need to act to prevent Americans from “unintentionally complicit in the atrocities, in the genocide perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Western countries accuse Beijing of massively banning the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking community in western China, into large labor camps.
The announcement comes as the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department announced new sanctions against Chinese biotech and high-tech companies accused of using their technology to serve the government to amplify the surveillance of Uyghurs.
“We agree with Congress that steps can and should be taken to hold the People’s Republic of China accountable for genocide and human rights abuses and to combat forced labor in Xinjiang,” the Chinese press said on Tuesday. It’s time to announce agreement on the text.
“The (Biden) administration will work closely with Congress to implement this law to ensure global supply chains are free from forced labor,” he said in a statement.
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