Jul 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate passes bill to ban all products from Xinjiang over China rights abuse

  Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing May 26
Sen. Marco Rubio during a May Senate hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate unanimously passed a bill on Wednesday that would ban the importation of all products from Xinjiang, China, due to the forced labor and genocide of Uyghurs and other minorities in the region.

Why it matters: Xinjiang products are deeply integrated into lucrative global supply chains, and Nike and Coca-Cola are among the major companies to have lobbied against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, per Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian.

What they're saying: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who introduced the legislation with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), said in a statement after the passage of the bill that the message to Beijing "and any international company that profits from forced labor in Xinjiang is clear: no more."

  • He added the U.S. would "not turn a blind eye" to the ruling Chinese Communist Party's "crimes against humanity," nor "allow corporations a free pass to profit from those horrific abuses."
  • Merkley noted that Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang "are being forced into labor, tortured, imprisoned, forcibly sterilized, and pressured to abandon their religious and cultural practices by the Chinese government."
  • "No American corporation should profit from these abuses," Merkley said. "No American consumers should be inadvertently purchasing products from slave labor,"

The big picture: The Biden administration has in recent weeks stepped up sanctions against China's government and blacklisted companies allegedly tied to the Chinese military or implicated in the genocide.

  • The administration updated an advisory on Tuesday warning that businesses with supply chains and investments in the Chinese region of Xinjiang run a "high risk" of violating U.S. laws on forced labor.

What's next: The legislation next heads to the House at a date to be determined.

  • Rubio urged House lawmakers to act "promptly" to pass the bill so it could be sent to President Biden to sign into law.
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