The House on Tuesday, Sept. 22, voted almost unanimously to pass a law that would restrict imports of products made with forced labor from China amid concerns about reports of abuse of Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region.
According to Reuters, the Democrat-controlled House passed the measure by a vote of 406 to 3. The Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act would force U.S. companies to avoid contracting with the Xinjiang region where 80% of China’s cotton is produced.
The law that was introduced on March 11 in the House “imposes various restrictions related to China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, including prohibiting certain imports from Xinjiang and imposing sanctions on those responsible for human rights violations there.”
In addition, as noted by the information portal jurist.org, the law says issuers “to file annual or quarterly reports with the Securities Exchange Commission [and] shall disclose in such reports certain information related to Xinjiang.”
Members of Congress said the measure is necessary to pressure the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to stop a campaign that has led to the arrest of more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic groups living under brutal conditions, according to ABC News.
Both the United States and other countries have been increasing pressure on the CCP as a result of its treatment of Uighur Muslims.
The CCP assigned some 80,000 Uighurs and members of other minority Muslim groups to factories across the country in recent years where they are working “under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor,” Forbes magazine said.
The Forbes added that Uighurs have been sent away from their homes and are subjected to ideological re-education, confined to strict surveillance, and also banned from religious practice.
In a report by the nonpartisan organization, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), it explains that the CCP has been accused of forcing the Muslim ethnic minority to work in factories that produce goods for well-known global companies such as Apple, Nike, BMW, Samsung, Sony, and Volkswagen.
While the bill now awaits the approval of the Senate, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed the bill is slowing down the progress and development of the region.
“The so-called problem of forced labor is totally a lie fabricated by some organizations and personnel in the United States and the West,” said ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.
Last week the Trump administration was considering implementing a ban on some or all products made from Xinjiang cotton on the grounds of documented human rights violations in the region.
As Reuters has indicated, the scope of the measure would be unclear at this time and would be issued from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Since March, congressmen have been proposing a measure to prevent goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang region from reaching the United States.