US Blocking Millions In Solar Imports Over China Slave Labor Concerns

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of solar equipment has accumulated at U.S. ports since Congress passed a law aimed at undercutting slave labor in China’s Xinjiang region, Reuters reported Friday.

Between June 21, when the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) came into effect, and Oct. 25, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials have seized 1,053 shipments of solar energy equipment originating in China, Reuters reported, citing public records provided by CBP. While restricting imports of products produced in China’s Xinjiang region may increase pressure on Beijing to reverse its policy of subjecting the Uyghur minority group in Xinjiang to slave labor, it may also impede the Biden administration’s parallel efforts to make progress on climate change.

CBP had not released any of the shipments, Reuters reported. (RELATED: From China To Europe, Woke Funds Investing In Fossil Fuels And Slave Labor)

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that CBP officials were delaying or returning solar shipments connected to Uyghur abuses in China, but the number of seizures has not yet been revealed, according to Reuters.

CBP declined to provide details of the confiscated equipment, according to Reuters, but industry experts said the products are likely panels and polysilicon cells linked to Chinese manufacturers Longi Green Energy Technology, Trina Solar and JinkoSolar Holding. The three companies, which account for roughly one-third of U.S. panel needs, have halted further exports to the U.S.

China burns over half the world’s coal to process polysilicon, a component in solar panels, much of which occurs in forced labor camps in Xinjiang.

“The malicious legislation the US has promulgated and enforced on Xinjiang based on this lie has seriously disrupted the normal trade in photovoltaic products between China and the US, violated the market laws and international economic and trade rules, and undermined the stability of the global photovoltaic industrial and supply chains as well as the global action on climate change,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press conference in response to Reuters’ report.

Lijian denied the existence of forced labor camps in Xinjiang.

However, a United Nations report on slavery issued earlier in 2022 found that China had subjected ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang to forced labor under the guise of “vocational training” and “poverty alleviation.”

Large solar panels are seen in a solar power plant in Hami, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on May 8, 2013.

Large solar panels are seen in a solar power plant in Hami, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on May 8, 2013.  (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The UFLPA assumes that any products originating in factories located in the Xinjiang Province involve forced labor and imposes strict standards on would-be vendors to prove otherwise. However, hurdles to meeting UFLPA standards have hindered the Biden administration’s expansive climate agenda.

Solar installations in the U.S. slowed 23% in the third quarter of 2022, according to the American Clean Power Association.

“After more than four months of solar panels being reviewed under UFLPA, none have been rejected and instead they remain stuck in limbo with no end in sight,” the trade group told Reuters.

CBP did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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