Senate Unanimously Passes Bill to Sanction Companies Using Forced Labor From Uyghur Concentration Camps in China
Do you support or oppose the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act?
What’s the story?
- The Senate on Wednesday cast a unanimous vote to pass a bill to sanction Chinese companies and individuals who benefit from the use of forced labor, particularly from the Xinjiang region where Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslim minorities have been detained in concentration camps and forced to work.
- The U.S. declared China’s actions in Xinjiang a “genocide” earlier this year and enacted the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 a year ago to authorize sanctions along the lines of what the Senate bill would impose.
- The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would sanction companies and individuals involved with the use of forced labor in Xinjiang under authorities created by, which became law last year. Additionally, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would prohibit the importation of goods presumed to have been made with forced labor in Xinjiang or by entities affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party.
- The bill’s contents were included in the U.S. Competition and Innovation Act, a broad package of technological and geopolitical provisions aimed at bolstering American competitiveness with China. The U.S. Competition and Innovation Act cleared the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 68-32 in June 2021 but hasn’t been considered yet by the House.
- Following Wednesday’s vote by the Senate, the standalone version of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act now heads to the House. It’s unclear when the House will add it to the schedule, although a vote could occur as early as next week when the chamber returns from its Fourth of July recess. Nearly identical legislation stalled at the end of the last Congress amid a lobbying push by companies such as Coca-Cola, Disney, and Nike, which was referenced in a hearing on the issue during the current Congress at which survivors of the concentration camps testified.
- The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act’s lead sponsor is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who also was the lead sponsor of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020. Rubio called on the House to follow the Senate’s lead in passing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in a statement:
“The message to Beijing and any international company that profits from forced labor in Xinjiang is clear: no more. 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. Once this bill passes the House and is signed by the President, the United States will have more tools to prevent products made with forced labor from entering our nation’s supply chains. We cannot afford any further delay, and I call on my colleagues in the House to promptly send this bill to the President.”
- Lead Democratic cosponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) added:
“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. 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.”
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Uyghur Concentration Camp: Radio Free Asia / Fair Use)
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