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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.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - Sports

China pulls Celtics games after Enes Kanter criticizes Xi Jinping

Celtics center Enes Kanter. Photo: Jim Michaud/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

China will no longer stream Boston Celtics games after center Enes Kanter called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator" in a social media post over the Chinese government's repressive policies in Tibet, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Kanter's criticism of Beijing has sparked another round of trouble for the NBA in China, one of its largest and most restrictive markets.

Oct 20, 2021 - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.