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Solar panels. Photo: Tao Liang/Xinhua via Getty Images

U.S. Customs and Border Protection started detaining solar panel imports from Chinese companies that allegedly source products from Xinjiang forced labor, Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: China is the supply chain leader for solar energy equipment, but concerns over human rights violations led the Biden administration to order a ban in June.

  • Yes, but: It could cause significant disruptions to planned projects across the U.S, industry leaders tell the Post.

Worth noting: President Biden is aiming to boost the domestic solar sector from 3% of electricity generation today to more than 40% by 2035.

The big picture: Recent investigative reports have outlined the Chinese government's enforcement of coercive state labor programs in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs and other minorities are the targets of a genocidal campaign.

  • The Senate passed a bill last month banning all products from Xinjiang.
  • Federal agencies have also warned firms operating in Xinjiang that they run a "high risk" of violating U.S. laws on forced labor.

Go deeper

Hope King, author of Closer
Dec 6, 2021 - Economy & Business

D.C.-Beijing tensions are shifting markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. markets stand to lose $2 trillion in value if D.C. and Beijing drift further apart.

Why it matters: Political chasms are showing up in new securities regulations that put companies and investors in a bind. The rules are also another reflection of how much relations between the world’s largest economies have cooled, even as they remain economically interdependent. 

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

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.