The US Senate on Wednesday passed a law banning the import of goods from China’s Xinjiang region, the latest effort in Washington to punish Beijing for what US officials say is an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and others. Muslim groups.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law would create a “rebuttable presumption” by assuming that products made in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and therefore banned under the Tariff Law of 1930, unless otherwise specified by US authorities.
Adopted unanimously, the bipartite measure would shift the burden of proof to importers. The current rule prohibits goods if there is reasonable evidence of forced labor.
The bill must also pass the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the White House for President Joe Biden to enact. It was not immediately clear when this could take place.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who introduced the bill with Democrat Jeff Merkley, called on the House to act quickly.
“We will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s ongoing crimes against humanity,” Rubio said in a statement.
“No American business should profit from these abuses. No American consumer should inadvertently buy forced labor products, ”said Merkley.
Democratic and Republican advisers said they expected the measure to gain strong support in the House, noting that the House approved a similar measure almost unanimously last year.
The bill would go beyond measures already taken to protect U.S. supply chains from rights violations in China, including existing bans on Xinjiang tomatoes, cotton and some solar products.
The Biden administration has stepped up sanctions and issued an advisory on Tuesday, warning companies that they could break US law if their operations are linked, even indirectly, to Xinjiang surveillance networks.
Rights groups, researchers, former residents, and some Western lawmakers and officials say authorities in Xinjiang have facilitated forced labor by detaining around one million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities since 2016.