The United States Senate passed legislation that would halt imports from China’s Xinjiang region, where the Chinese government is enslaving members of the Uyghur ethnic group.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act — sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) — was approved in the Senate via unanimous consent on Wednesday. The legislation must now pass the House of Representatives and receive a signature from President Biden.
According to the bill:
Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1307) states that it is illegal to import into the United States “goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part” by forced labor. Such merchandise is subject to exclusion or seizure and may lead to criminal investigation of the importer.
The policies of the Government of the People’s Republic of China are in contravention of international human rights instruments signed by that government, including— the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the People’s Republic of China has signed but not yet ratified; the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, ratified by the People’s Republic of China in 2001; and the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), to which the People’s Republic of China has been a state party since February 2010.
“The message to Beijing and any international company that profits from forced labor in Xinjiang is clear: no more,” commented Rubio in a press release. “We will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s ongoing crimes against humanity, and we will not allow corporations a free pass to profit from those horrific abuses.”
“Today the Senate is sending a clear message that the United States will not be complicit in the Chinese government’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims,” added Merkley. “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. No American consumers should be inadvertently purchasing products from slave labor.”
Rubio urged the House of Representatives and the White House to avoid “any further delay” in approving the legislation.
Last September, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act passed the House by a 406-3 margin. However, as The Daily Wire reported, companies such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple lobbied against the bill in the Senate.
Many American corporations derive much of their growth from China’s rapidly expanding consumer economy and are therefore hesitant to oppose the nation’s communist regime. Nike CEO John Donahoe reassured investors during a recent earnings call that “Nike is a brand that is of China and for China.”