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‘Torture, Rape, Forced Sterilization’: Businesses Operating In Xinjiang, China, Could Violate US Law, State Dept. Says

(Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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The State Department is reminding businesses that operating in Xinjiang, China, could lead them to violate human rights laws amid continued reports of forced labor and genocide in the region.

Business operating in Xinjiang run the risk of violating laws prohibiting “forced labor including knowingly benefiting from participation in a venture… sanctions violations…. export control violations; and violation of the prohibition of importations of goods produced in whole or in part with forced labor or convict labor,” according to an advisory released Tuesday. The advisory does not carry the force of law, but reminds companies of their legal responsibilities. 

Both the administrations of former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden have confirmed that China is engaging in genocide against the Uyghur ethnic minority group. The Chinese government’s actions include “imprisonment, torture, rape, forced sterilization… draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement,” according to the advisory.

Despite sanctions against Chinese government officials and local companies, some American firms continue to operate in Xinjiang. Apple contracts with seven Chinese firms that employ Chinese slave laborers, according to a May report from the technology publication The Information. The report conflicted with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s congressional testimony that Apple does not use forced labor. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Buck Demands Answers On Apple’s Relationship With Companies Accused Of Using Forced Labor)

Apple, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and several other trade groups lobbied against the Uyghur Forced Labor Act in 2020 and 2021. The bill is currently under consideration in the Senate.