Dharamshala: Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the democratically elected political leader of the Tibetan people today welcomed the US’ renewed bill to ban forced-labour products from Xinjiang.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill-prohibiting imports of goods made with forced labour in China was introduced on Thursday by Congressmen James P. McGovern, Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Chris Smith, Thomas R. Suozzi, Vicky Hartzler, Tom Malinowski, Mike Gallagher, and Jennifer Wexton.
Welcoming the landmark bill, Sikyong thanked Congressman McGovern and the co-sponsors for reintroducing the bill in the House that not only prohibits imports from Xinjiang but ensures China’s accountability in its long-standing repression of Uyghur Muslim minority and Tibetans who have been forced into a network of mass labour camps.
Besides recognising a system of illegal mass internment camps targeting Uyghurs and Muslim minorities, the bill recognises the ‘military-style education’ and ‘vocational training’ that the Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) are forced into in the name of ‘poverty alleviation’ before being transferred to job postings. It also mentions the ‘the similarity of the Tibet Autonomous Region system to that in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’ and the ‘coercive practices or rights abuses’ that are taking place in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
As such, the bill mandates a “rebuttable presumption” that the goods imported from Xinjiang are made with forced labour and thus are strictly prohibited from entering the US unless evidence to the contrary is presented. The bill also gives the US President full authority to sanction anyone found responsible for labour trafficking in any part of the People Republic of China.
According to the press release of Congressman McGovern’s office, the legislation is an updated version of H.R. 6210 that passed in the House of Representatives on 22 September 2020, by a vote of 406-3.
The legislation would:
- Prohibit all imports from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China unless the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection can certify that the goods being imported to the U.S. are not produced, either wholly or in part, with forced labour and the Commissioner submits to Congress a report outlining such a determination;
- Authorize the President to apply targeted sanctions on anyone responsible for the labour trafficking of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities;
- Require financial disclosures from the U.S. publicly traded businesses about their engagement with Chinese companies and other entities engaged in mass surveillance, mass internment, forced labour and other serious human rights abuses in the XUAR;
- Directs the Secretary of State to submit to Congress a public determine whether the practice of forced labour or other human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR constitute crimes against humanity or genocide, and directs the Secretary to develop a diplomatic strategy to address forced labour in the XUAR; and
- Require a strategy report from the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (established by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act) and regular updates on the steps taken to enforce the import prohibition on forced labour made goods from the XUAR.
To read the full text of the bill, click here.