The US House of Representatives has reintroduced a bill to ban imports from China’s northwestern Xinjiang region unless the products coming in can be verified as being produced without forced labor.
The revamped bill, which previously passed the House by 406-3 votes, is designed to clamp down on the Chinese government, which the US has accused of committing “genocide” against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Under the legislation, US President Biden would be able to impose sanctions against people trafficking Uighurs in Xinjiang. The region is a major exporter of cotton and tomatoes to the US.
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US-listed companies would also be required to disclose their financial involvement with Chinese businesses using forced labor – a measure left out of a similar Senate bill in January.
“We have watched in horror as the Chinese government first created, and then expanded a system of extrajudicial mass internment camps targeting Uighurs and Muslim minorities,” said Democrat Jim McGovern (D-MA), who reintroduced the bill.
The UN said in 2018 it had seen credible reports that more than one million people had been detained in “political re-education” camps in Xinjiang.
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The new US bill has bipartisan support across the House, though it has reportedly become the focus of lobby groups with business links to the Chinese region in question.
In one of his last acts as US president, Donald Trump last month announced a ban on all imports of Xinjiang-grown cotton and tomatoes, including sauces, seeds and other products.
Around the same time, then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China of a “systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs” – allegations which Beijing denies.
“There is no so-called systematic rape and sexual abuse against women, China is a rule-of-law state, our constitution guarantees and protects human rights, this is enshrined in our legal system and government work,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin said earlier this month.
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