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Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The State Department and five other federal agencies issued an updated 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.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is moving aggressively to ensure that American businesses, many of which use supply chains deeply intertwined with the Chinese economy, are not complicit in the genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Driving the news: The State Department, Treasury Department, Commerce Department, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Trade Representative and Labor Department are calling on businesses to engage in "heightened due diligence" with respect to four primary categories of dealings in Xinjiang.

  1. Assisting or investing in the development of surveillance tools, including tools related to genetic collection and analysis.
  2. Sourcing labor or goods from Xinjiang or other regions connected to the use of forced labor in Xinjiang.
  3. Supplying U.S.-origin commodities, software and technology to entities involved in surveillance or forced labor.
  4. Aiding in the construction and operation of internment camps or manufacturing facilities that subject minority groups to forced labor.

Zoom in: Elements of at least 20 industries have been identified as using forced labor in Xinjiang, including agriculture, cell phones, cleaning supplies, construction, cotton, electronics, extractives, hair accessories and wigs, food processing factories, footwear, gloves, hospitality services, metallurgical grade silicon, noodles, printing products, renewable energy, stevia, sugar, textiles and toys.

Between the lines: The advisory warns that companies doing business in China are likely to face "obstacles" when attempting to conduct due diligence, including government controls, lack of government and corporate transparency, threats against auditors, and a "police state" atmosphere in Xinjiang.

  • Axios has previously reported on the State Department's concerns that auditors have been "detained, threatened, harassed and subjected to constant surveillance" while tracking supply chains in China.
  • The Chinese government has condemned U.S. efforts to raise awareness of the abuses in Xinjiang as "interference in internal affairs," and has denied all allegations of genocide, forced labor or repression.

What they're saying: "Given the severity and extent of these abuses, including widespread, state-sponsored forced labor and intrusive surveillance taking place amid ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, businesses and individuals that do not exit supply chains, ventures, and/or investments connected to Xinjiang could run a high risk of violating U.S. law," the advisory says.

Go deeper: Read the full advisory

Go deeper

Mar 9, 2021 - World

Report: "Clear evidence" China is committing genocide against Uyghurs

The scene in 2019 of a site believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese authorities have breached "each and every act prohibited" under the UN Genocide Convention over the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang province, an independent report published Tuesday alleges.

Why it matters: D.C. think-tank the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, which released the report, said in a statement the conclusions by dozens of experts in war crimes, human rights and international law are "clear and convincing": The ruling Chinese Communist Party bears responsibility.

GOP Rep. Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced his retirement on Thursday, declining to run against a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022.

Why it matters: Gonzalez has suffered politically since siding with House Democrats to impeach the 45th president after the Capitol riot.

Swing voters oppose Texas abortion law

Protesters at a rally at the Texas State Capitol. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

All 10 swing voters in Axios’ latest focus groups — including those who described themselves as "pro-life" — said they oppose Texas' new anti-abortion law.

Why it matters: If their responses reflect larger patterns in U.S. society, this could hurt Republicans with women and independents in next year's midterm elections. The swing voters cited overreach, invasion of privacy and concerns about frivolous lawsuits jamming up the courts.