The UK is seeking a change in legislation in order to ban the purchase of medical supplies linked to slavery and human trafficking.
The UK government announced on Friday, April 22, that it had released an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill. The amendment would help the country avoid the use of goods and services that are “tainted by slavery and human trafficking.”
According to Reuters, the amendment does not mention Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has allegedly backed the use of slave labor. Still, the move will prevent UK’s National Health Service from buying or using products related to slave labor, including Xinjiang.
The amendment will affect contracts with Chinese manufacturers. It’s because China is accused by human rights groups of using forced labor from the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province.
UK health minister Sajid Javid said, “I want this to be a turning point in the UK’s mission to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in supply chains around the globe.”
As Financial Times reported, Layla Moran – British Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson – called on the UK government to follow the US Senate, which in December 2021 passed a bill banning all imports from the Xinjiang region.
Rahima Mahmut, UK director of the World Uyghur Congress, thanked for the amendment and praised the government for “standing up to China.”
Mahmut said, “For too long the UK has pretended that it’s possible to increase trade with China while denouncing their human rights atrocities.”
She added, “I hope this is the beginning of the end for China’s trade impunity.”