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Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday banned imports of solar materials from a Chinese firm accused of using forced labor in China's Xinjiang region.

Why it matters: It represents an escalation of pressure against China over allegations of forced labor and genocide in a region that produces large amounts of silicon-based materials.

  • The State Department has accused the Chinese government of carrying out a sweeping campaign of mass detention, surveillance, forced labor and forced assimilation of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
  • China dominates the supply chain for solar energy equipment, per Politico.

The U.S. is also restricting exports to five Chinese companies allegedly involved in human rights violations.

  • The firms — Hoshine Silicon Industry (Shanshan); Xinjiang Daqo New Energy; Xinjiang East Hope Nonferrous Metals; Xinjiang GCL New Energy Material Technology, and XPCC — are large producers of polysilicon for solar panels.

What they're saying: "The PRC’s use of forced labor in Xinjiang is an integral part of its systematic abuses against the Uyghur population and other ethnic and religious minority groups, and addressing these abuses will remain a high priority," the White House said in a statement.

  • "The United States will not tolerate forced labor in our supply chains and will continue to stand up for our values and for U.S. workers and businesses."

Go deeper: State Department fears Chinese threats to forced labor auditors

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 1, 2021 - Energy & Environment

China's oil giants cautiously chart their climate course

Expand chart
Data: Columbia | SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

There's plenty written about what oil giants like Exxon are — and aren't — doing on climate, but a report from a Columbia University energy think tank explores how Chinese companies are approaching the matter.

Why it matters: Chinese state companies have a role to play in China's vow to peak emissions before 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine mandate after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks announced in a memo to employees Tuesday that it has dropped plans to implement a vaccine mandate for all U.S. workers, AP reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

1 hour ago - Health

Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

America is seeing more COVID hospitalizations than other wealthy countries during the Omicron surge, according to Our World in Data.

Why it matters: Vaccines keep the vast majority of COVID cases out of the hospital, but vaccination rates are also lower in the U.S. than these other countries.