The House of Representatives passed a measure Wednesday that would ban the importing of Chinese products manufactured with forced labor.
The bill, sponsored by Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, was aimed at protecting the Uighurs, China’s Muslim minority.
Uighurs have been detained and forced to work in labor camps and factories that produce goods for dozens of popular global brands, the congressman said.
The US has said China’s imprisonment, torture, enforced sterilization, and persecution of the Turkic ethnic group amounts to “genocide,” charges Beijing had denied.
The proposal would allow customs officials to assume that all goods from Xinjiang, where China has set up detention camps to imprison the minority group, were made from forced labor. It also directs Washington to identify and sanction officials responsible for the atrocities.
“Put simply, we’re talking about crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the Chinese government,” Suozzi said in a statement.
“We need to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for these acts that violate our very conscience. Some people are going to say, ‘Oh my gosh, if we don’t do business with Xinjiang, the cost of products go up.’ Well, that’s too damn bad. This should shock everyone’s conscience.”
Republicans had accused Democrats of delaying passage of the bill — which was rolled out in February — over concerns that banning solar panels made in Xinjiang would complicate President Joe Biden’s renewable energy agenda. Democrats had denied the charges.
The “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act” passed by a margin of 428-1. It was headed to the Senate for approval before being sent to the president’s desk. Another resolution calling for United Nations action against the genocide passed by a similar margin.
On Monday, the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of China’s upcoming Winter Olympics to protest the “egregious human rights abuses.” American athletes would still be allowed to compete.
With Post wires