Senate Votes To Ban Imports From Xinjiang Over Human Rights Abuses Against Uyghurs

(Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The Senate passed a bill by voice vote Wednesday that would ban imports from Xinjiang over human rights abuses conducted against the Uyghur ethnic minority by the Chinese government.

The bill, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, was co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 54 senators. Hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities “may be working in conditions of forced labor following detention in re-education camps,” according to the legislation.

Both the Trump and Biden administrations have declared that China is engaging in genocide against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. They previously enforced bans on products made in Xinjiang via executive orders. (RELATED: ‘Torture, Rape, Forced Sterilization’: Businesses Operating In Xinjiang, China, Could Violate US Law, State Dept. Says)

“We will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s ongoing crimes against humanity, and we will not allow corporations a free pass to profit from those horrific abuses. Once this bill passes the House and is signed by the President, the United States will have more tools to prevent products made with forced labor from entering our nation’s supply chains,” Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in a statement.

“Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang are being forced into labor, tortured, imprisoned, forcibly sterilized, and pressured to abandon their religious and cultural practices by the Chinese government. No American corporation should profit from these abuses. No American consumers should be inadvertently purchasing products from slave labor,” Democratic Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley added.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act passed the House of Representatives 403-6 in September 2020, but the Senate did not take it up before the end of the congressional term. Several major companies and trade groups, including Nike, Apple, Coca-Cola and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lobbied against the legislation.