President Joe Biden on Thursday promulgated a law that prohibits entry to U.S of a wide range of products made in China’s Xinjiang province, on allegations that forced labor is imposed on the Uighur minority there.
The rule prohibits importing products that are wholly or partially manufactured in Xinjiang, unless customs officials are shown that they are not the result of forced labor.
It is a regulation without precedent in the world.
The law calls for paying particular attention to imports of three products: cotton, Xinjiang being one of the world’s largest producers; tomatoes, also mass-produced in that region; and polysilicon, a material used in the production of photovoltaic panels.
Thus, it gives the government “new tools to prevent the entry into the territory of products manufactured with forced labor in Xinjiang and to hold the people and entities behind these abuses responsible,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement in the one who called on the Chinese government to put an end to “genocide and crimes against humanity.”
The White House specified that the text also “imposes sanctions on foreigners responsible for forced labor in the region.”
The adoption of the law by a unanimous vote of the Senate on December 16 was a victory for those who advocate an aggressive policy aimed at fighting against the violation of human rights.
The rule was adopted despite a lobbying campaign by companies who argued that the measure would hamper global supply chains, already heavily pressured by the pandemic.
This measure is the “most important and effective measure taken so far to hold the Chinese Communist Party responsible for its resources to forced labor,” Biden said in a statement.
In signing the text, Democrat Biden thanked Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the authors of the bill, the White House said.
However, during the legislative process, the Republican opposition reproached the White House for seeking to dull the text.
Problems around Intel
Western countries accuse Beijing of locking Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking community in western China, in large labor camps.
On Thursday, the Commerce and Treasury departments announced new sanctions against Chinese biotech and high-tech companies accused of serving their country’s government in expanding surveillance of Uighurs.
The Treasury had also banned Americans from doing business with eight high-tech companies, including DJI, the world’s number one drone company, which had already been blacklisted by the Commerce Department for two years.
But the implementation of the law, and in general the offensive of the United States against certain Chinese economic interests, could cause friction.
This was evidenced on Thursday by the controversy surrounding the American semiconductor giant Intel.
Following the adoption of the law in the Senate, and after the battery of US sanctions against Chinese companies, Intel had sent an email to its suppliers demanding that they avoid buying in the region.
This generated strong rejection in China, which the chipmaker tried to appease with a statement posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo: “Our initial intention was to ensure respect for US laws. We apologize for the trouble caused to our respected Chinese customers, our allies and the public. ”
“We believe that the private sector and the international community should oppose China’s instrumentalization of its markets to stifle support for human rights,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, questioned about the statement. from Intel.
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