Bill seeks to snuff out forced labour in U.S. supply chains . . .
A bipartisan U.S. Congressional commission has proposed a ban on imports from the Xinjiang region of western China in response to evidence that Beijing is subjecting Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups to forced labour. If passed, the new legislation will require businesses that work with Xinjiang-based producers to provide documentation that their goods were not produced using involuntary workers. Goods mined or manufactured wholly or in part in Xinjiang will otherwise be treated as produced with forced labour by default. Commission members said “it is long past time for companies to reassess.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized the move, reiterating that people in Xinjiang are being held in 'counter extremism’ or ‘vocational education’ centres.
Bombardier responds . . .
The U.S. move follows reporting last week that includes evidence that 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred to factories across China for coercive labour. The findings also point to instances of officials and private brokers allegedly receiving money for every Uyghur transferred. An estimated one million Uyghurs have been rounded up, and the scale of the situation has prompted a number of companies to respond. For its part, Canadian transportation company Bombardier – the only Canadian company on the list – said, “we take these allegations very seriously,” adding that none of its Canadian projects were supplied by a Chinese manufacturer linked to Uyghur ‘transfers.’
‘Credible reports’ of forced labour . . .
U.S. Representative Jim McGovern, who heads the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said that testimony, photos, and leaked records show the presence of forced labour. The Commission released an accompanying report saying it had seen “credible reports” that goods made using forced labour have entered the United States, including textiles, cell phones, computer hardware, shoes, and tea. Chinese officials, including Beijing’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, have tried to discredit these reports. Beijing claims the camps teach Mandarin language and job skills to steer ‘students’ away from religious extremism. He called the Congressional legislation another move to use human rights to interfere in China’s internal affairs.