U.S. enacts law banning imports from Xinjiang due to forced labor in China

US President Joe Biden on Thursday enacted a bill effectively banning all imports from China’s Xinjiang region, over concerns over the use of forced labor involving his ethnic Uyghur minority, immediately triggering a backlash from of the Communist government.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law, which was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate last week, is sure to strain relations between the world’s two largest economies, already in effect. disagreement on issues such as human rights, trade and China’s military assertion in the region.

The law underscores the United States’ commitment to “combat forced labor, including in the context of the ongoing genocide in Xinjiang,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, referring to alleged human rights violations committed by China in its far-western region.

“We call on the government of the People’s Republic of China to immediately end the genocide and crimes against humanity against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” he said. added in his statement, using the official name of China. .

China on Friday swiftly lambasted the United States, saying President Xi Jinping’s government strongly deplores and rejects Biden’s signing of the bill because it denigrates the human rights situation in Xinjiang.

“We urge the United States to correct the mistake immediately and stop using the Xinjiang-related issues to spread lies, interfere in China’s internal affairs and contain China’s development,” the ministry said. Foreign Affairs in a press release.

The law requires US customs officials to presume that products made in the Xinjiang region were made with forced labor, and therefore to ban their importation unless there is “clear and convincing” evidence to the contrary. .

The provision will come into force 180 days after the law is enacted.

Washington’s action could also affect Japanese companies that source products from Xinjiang, a major cotton-producing region.

The move is the latest in a series of efforts by the US government to ensure that the country’s supply chains are free from the forced labor of Muslim Uyghurs.

Under the Tariff Act of 1930, which banned the importation of goods produced by forced labor, the Biden administration in July imposed a ban on the importation of key solar panel material by a Chinese company located in Xinjiang. .

An import ban on cotton and tomato products from the region was also issued towards the end of the previous administration under Donald Trump.

The Uyghur Law on the Prevention of Forced Labor will have broader coverage, as it applies to all “goods, merchandise, articles and merchandise mined, produced or manufactured in whole or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”

More than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities were believed to have been unfairly detained in internment camps in the region, according to the State Department’s latest report on human rights practices.

The department also accused the Chinese authorities of using threats of physical violence, forced drug use, physical and sexual abuse and torture to force detainees to work in factories producing various items, including clothing, hair accessories, shoes, holiday decorations, consumer electronics, face masks and food products.

China has insisted that what the United States calls detention camps are vocational training centers created to prevent terrorism and religious extremism, urging Washington not to interfere in its “affairs. interior ”.

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