Politics

House Passes Bill Banning Imports From Xinjiang, China, Over Slave Labor Concerns

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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The House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted on Wednesday night to pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Act, which prohibits Americans from importing goods made from forced labor in Xinjiang province of China.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, passed 428-1, with only Republican Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie voting against it. A companion bill sponsored by Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio passed the Senate by voice vote in July. The House passed the same bill in September 2020, but the Senate did not take up the bill before the end of the previous congressional session. (RELATED: ‘Torture, Rape, Forced Sterilization’: Businesses Operating In Xinjiang, China, Could Violate US Law, State Dept. Says)

The House passed the bill under suspension of regular rules, due to its broad bipartisan support. The legislation was co-sponsored by 111 members from both parties.

“This is a strong, bipartisan bill with a simple purpose: to stop the government of China from exploiting the Uyghur people,” McGovern said in a statement. “In two months, the Chinese government will host the Winter Olympics in the middle of a genocide. We must take a clear moral position to stand with those who are suffering because of forced labor. No more business as usual. I am especially grateful to Speaker Pelosi for her longstanding and principled leadership on this issue and for getting it to the floor for a vote, and I urge the United States Senate to quickly pass this bill and get it to President Biden’s desk for his signature.”

Federal law prohibits the importation of products made with forced labor, and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act creates the presumption that all products made in Xinjiang are made with forced labor. If a firm wishes to import products from Xinjiang, it would be required to provide “clear and convincing evidence” that the products were not made with forced or convict labor.

Several major companies and trade groups, including Apple, Coca-Cola, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lobbied against the bill. Seven Apple suppliers have been named in media reports as employing forced labor.

Both the Trump and Biden administrations determined that China is committing genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and is forcing Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities to participate in forced labor in factories run by the Chinese government. They are also reportedly subject to electric shock torture, organ harvesting, and mass rape.