US Senate passes Bill to ban goods produced from Uyghur forced labour

A few hours prior, Chinese drone maker DJI was slapped with trading sanctions for its alleged role in the human rights abuses committed against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The US Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a Bill banning the import of all goods, including technology, produced in the Chinese region of Xinjiang to penalise the Chinese government for its heinous treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

The Bill, titled Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, explains that it was made specifically to blast the Chinese government for the international human rights violations it has committed against those minority groups.

It accuses China of arbitrarily detaining 1.8 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups in mass internment camps and subjecting them to forced labour, torture, political indoctrination, and other severe human rights abuses. 

China has faced growing condemnation for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other Muslim minorities, with numerous reports stating that Chinese authorities have been tracking the movements of these people. There have also been reports of other human rights abuses, such as the installation of spyware on the phones of Uyghur Muslims and placing Uyghur Muslims into "re-education" camps

In addition to the ban, the Bill's passage will see the US coordinate with Canada and Mexico to prohibit the importation of goods made in the Xinjiang region.

The only exception to the ban are goods determined by the US Customs and Border Protection commissioner, "by clear and convincing evidence", to be not from convict, forced, or indentured labour.

The import ban will potentially see a myriad of tech companies change their supply chains, with an Australian Strategic Policy Institute report last year alleging that the supply chains of 83 global brands at the time had used forced Uyghur labour.

"The president welcomes the agreement by Congress on the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. We agree with Congress that action can and must be taken to hold the People's Republic of China accountable for genocide and human rights abuses and to address forced labour in Xinjiang," White House secretary Jen Psaki said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Treasury department announced it had slapped eight Chinese technology firms, including drone maker DJI, with trading sanctions on the grounds that they actively supported the biometric surveillance and tracking of Uyghur and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region.

The sanctions will prohibit US persons from purchasing or selling any publicly traded securities connected with these entities.

Alongside DJI, the other seven organisations slapped with the sanctions are Cloudwalk Technology, Dawning Information Industry, Leon Technology Company Limited, Megvii Technology, Netposa Technologies, Xiamen Meiya Pico Information, and Yitu.

"Today's action highlights how private firms in China's defense and surveillance technology sectors are actively cooperating with the government's efforts to repress members of ethnic and religious minority groups," said Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence under secretary Brian Nelson.

"Treasury remains committed to ensuring that the US financial system and American investors are not supporting these activities."

On the same day, the Commerce Department also announced it would add another 34 Chinese organisations to its Entity List, banning them from buying parts and components from US companies without government approval. 

The 34 entities were banned for various reasons, ranging from supporting the Chinese military through research biotechnology, including "purported brain-control weaponry", to supplying US-origin items to support Iran's advanced conventional weapons and missile programs.

The eight companies that received the trading sanctions from Treasury, meanwhile, were already on the Entity List. 

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