The United States of America on June 2 announced that the Biden administration will enforce a new law that will ban the products manufactured with forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province from being imported to Washington. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) was signed by US President Joe Biden back in December last year into legislation. The law that bans the import of goods from Xinjiang was aimed at holding the Chinese government accountable for the human rights abuses on Uyghur minority and other ethnic communities.
United States has long accused the People’s Republic of China (PRC) of forced labour, mass sterilisations, ethnic cleansing of the Uyghurs at the concentration camps in the region of Xinjiang. Biden signed the law in order to punish the Xi Jinping regime for its human rights abuses and the US state department had also imposed sanctions on foreign entities for purchasing the products labelled as being manufactured in Xinjiang from the forced labour.
The US had also announced a ban on cotton imports from China manufactured in Xinjiang province. The US Department of Homeland Security had also notified that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel at US ports will detain all cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). About $9 billion (€7.9 billion) of cotton products was imported into the US from China’s Xinjiang just last year, US Customs and Border Protection Agency informed.
Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) is set to take effect from June 21, and this implies that US Customs and Border Protection will treat any goods manufactured in China’s Xinjiang as the product of “forced labour.” Exemptions may be considered if the importer presented “clear and convincing evidence” that the goods weren’t manufactured with abuse and forced labour.
The law was initiated by the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Representatives McGovern and Chris Smith, and Senators Merkley and Rubio. US, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and an array of human rights groups have accused China of perpetrating genocide against Uyghur minority community. As it will be implemented this week, some of the major corporations that use forced labour to manufacture the items in China will now be held accountable.
China reacts to US’ import bans
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on June 2 derided the US’ implementation of the UFLPA. “We have rebuked US lies on Xinjiang many times,” he said at a news conference. “The so-called Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, in disregard of facts, maliciously smears the human rights conditions in China’s Xinjiang, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, gravely violates international law and basic norms governing international relations, and violates market rules and commercial ethics.” Zhao warned of the “dire consequences” if the law was put into effect.
“If implemented, the act will seriously disrupt normal cooperation between Chinese and American businesses, undermine the stability of global supply chains, and eventually hurt the U.S.’s own interests,” China’s foreign ministry threatened. It urged the US to refrain from enforcing the act, stop using Xinjiang-related issues “to interfere in China’s internal affairs” and contain China’s development.