US Senate passes bill to ban Xinjiang imports: Washington's further step


Guards guard what China calls a "vocational training center" in Xinjiang. Photo: Reuters
Guards guard what China calls a "vocational training center" in Xinjiang. Photo: Reuters

Reuters news agency (UK) reported that the US Senate on July 14 passed a bill banning the import of products from Xinjiang, China.

It is Washington's latest attempt to punish Beijing for what US officials accuse of "genocide" by China against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.


Accordingly, The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act will create a "rebuttable presumption" that states that items are manufactured in New Zealand. Diamonds are created through forced labor - hence these items are prohibited under the Tariff Act of 1930 - unless otherwise certified by other US authorities.

The bill has been unanimously approved by the US Senate, and will need to be approved by the House of Representatives before it is sent to the White House for President Joe Biden to approve and officially become an Act.

According to Reuters, current rules in the US prohibit the import of goods if there is reasonable evidence of forced labor, so it will be the responsibility of importers to prove it.

It is not clear when the House of Representatives will hold a vote on the bill. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who proposed a bill to ban imports of Xinjiang goods, along with Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, called on the House to act quickly.

"We will not turn a blind eye to China's crimes against humanity [in Xinjiang], and we will not allow companies that are allowed to freely profit from horrendous labor abuses," he said. That's terrible," Mr Rubio declared.

Meanwhile, Senator Merkley stressed: "No American company should benefit from these abuses. No American consumer should unwittingly buy products from slave labor."

The US Senate hopes this bill will receive strong support from the House of Representatives, because the House of Representatives in 2020 passed a similar bill with a near-maximum unanimous vote.

This bill would be a further step for the US to secure its supply chain against accusations of China. Up to now, the US has imposed a ban on the import of tomatoes, cotton and some solar products from Xinjiang.

President Joe Biden's administration has stepped up sanctions and warned businesses on July 13 that they could be breaking US law if their activities are involved - whether indirectly. - with "surveillance network" in Xinjiang.

China is accused of holding about 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in re-education camps in Xinjiang since 2016 and forced labor. Beijing has denied these accusations, insisting that the so-called "re-education camps" are "vocational training centres".

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