Washington -On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed a legislation banning the import of goods from China’s Xinjiang region, the latest attempt by Washington to punish Beijing for what U.S. officials claim is an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim groups. Accordingly, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would create a ‘rebuttable presumption’ that products manufactured in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and therefore forbidden under the 1930 Tariff Act unless otherwise certified by U.S. authorities.
By unanimous consent, the bipartisan measure would shift the burden of proof to importers. In the current rule, goods are prohibited if there is reasonable evidence that they were manufactured by forced labor. The bill needs to pass the House of Representatives before it can be sent to President Biden for signing. It was not immediately clear when that would happen. Senate Republican Marco Rubio, who introduced the bill with Democrat Jeff Merkley, urged the House to act quickly.
In a statement, Rubio expressed his refusal to turn a blind eye to the crimes against humanity committed by the CCP, and he condemned corporations profiting from those horrific abuses. ‘The American public should not be unaware that they are buying products made by slave labor’, Merkley said. Republican and Democratic aides expect strong support for the measure in the House, noting that a similar measure was approved last year nearly unanimously.
By passing the bill, Congress would go beyond existing steps taken to secure U.S. supply chains in the face of allegations of rights abuses in China, including existing bans on Xinjiang tomatoes, cotton, and some solar products. In addition to increased sanctions, the Biden administration issued an advisory on Tuesday warning that if its operations are connected even indirectly to surveillance networks in Xinjiang, they may have violated U.S. law. Since 2016, around a million Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim minorities have been held by Xinjiang authorities, according to rights groups, researchers, former residents and some Western lawmakers and officials.