Statement: US House Bill Would Effectively Block Import of Goods Produced with Uyghur Forced Labour

In the Uyghur Region of Western China (referred to by China as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), the government of China continues to press ahead with its systematic program to eliminate the Uyghur community’s identity and way of life through forced and prison labor, family separation, and forced sterilisation, among other serious human rights violations. This demands our urgent attention and concerted action to end it. At the very least, multinational companies should not profit from these abuses and US consumers must not be sold these goods.

While Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a regional Withhold Release Order on all cotton-made and tomato products made in whole or in part from the forced labour of Uyghur people in January 2021, the US can and must do more. The bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, reintroduced on February 18, 2021 by Representatives McGovern, Smith, and colleagues, is such needed action. The legislation is an updated version of H.R. 6210 that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives on September 22, 2020 by a vote of 406-3. It provides a clear and effective program in place to keep these goods off our shelves and to stop companies from profiteering from forced labour.

The updated House version also highlights the global solar energy supply chain that currently depends as heavily on polysilicon inputs from the Region made with forced labour, as the textile and garment supply currently depends on the Region’s cotton. The current House version maintains the strongest assurance that goods made with forced labour do not enter US markets by keeping a strong “rebuttable presumption” that all goods and inputs from the Uyghur Region are made with forced labour.

Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash