President Biden signs law banning forced labor products from Xinjiang

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FILE – In this April 23, 2021, file photo, a person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China’s government rejected U.S. accusations of forced labor in Xinjiang and accused Washington on Thursday, July 15, 2021, of hurting global trade after lawmakers endorsed import curbs and American companies were warned they face legal risks if they keep doing business with the region. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — On Thursday, The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which Wexton co-introduced with Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) earlier this year, was signed into law by President Joe Biden. The bill, which had bipartisan support, will prohibit all imports from China’s Xinjiang region unless it can be proven that they were not made using forced labor.

“The mass imprisonment and forced labor of Uyghurs in China has poisoned global supply chains, and American companies and consumers cannot be complicit,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “I’m proud that we have delivered a strong, bipartisan law that will keep goods made with forced labor off of our store shelves and hold the Chinese government accountable for their genocide of Uyghurs. I’m grateful to the relentless work of advocates in Virginia and across the country for helping make this legislation a reality, and I will continue fighting to ensure that the U.S. will not turn a blind eye to this human rights atrocity.”

After the issue was raised during a meeting with constituents at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center shortly after Wexton took office in 2019, Congresswoman Wexton has long advocated for meaningful action to hold the Chinese government accountable for their widespread exploitation of Uyghur forced labor. Wexton represents one of the largest Uyghur diaspora populations in the United States, and he has spoken out against the situation of Uyghur families in Northern Virginia who have been subjected to PRC monitoring and human rights violations.

“Our champions in Congress fought hard for this bill over the last two years,” Executive Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, Omer Kanat said “We are grateful beyond words that the U.S. now has the tools to stop companies profiting from Chinese government’s horrendous forced labor program.”

Electronics, textiles, vehicle parts, polysilicon, wigs and hair extensions, and shoes have all been linked to forced labor in Xinjiang, and despite all of the recent focus on the subject, imports from Xinjiang to the United States more than doubled in 2020. Big firms like Nike and Coca-Cola have lobbied against the bipartisan legislation, claiming to have gained from the forced labor regime. The bill was enacted by the House and Senate overwhelmingly earlier this month.

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