A measure to ban all products from China’s Xinjiang province, known for its crimes against humanity and ongoing Uyghur Muslim genocide, unanimously passed the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., will ensure goods produced using forced labor imposed by the Chinese Communist Party in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region will not enter the United States market.
“The message to Beijing and any international company that profits from forced labor in Xinjiang is clear: no more,” Rubio said in a statement. “We will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s ongoing crimes against humanity, and we will not allow corporations a free pass to profit from those horrific abuses.”
Merkley said the Senate sent a “clear message” that the U.S. will not be “complicit” in the Uyghur Muslim genocide by China’s government.
“Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang are being forced into labor, tortured, imprisoned, forcibly sterilized, and pressured to abandon their religious and cultural practices by the Chinese government,” Merkley said in a statement.
“No American corporation should profit from these abuses. No American consumers should be inadvertently purchasing products from slave labor,” the Democrat continued.
The senators called for the House to act quickly to pass the legislation. The bill must pass the House of Representatives before it goes to the White House.
“Once this bill passes the House and is signed by the President, the United States will have more tools to prevent products made with forced labor from entering our nation’s supply chains,” Rubio said. “We cannot afford any further delay, and I call on my colleagues in the House to promptly send this bill to the President.”
Rubio also authored the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, which was the first piece of Uyghur human rights legislation to be signed into law in the world. The law imposes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang and requires various reports on the topic.
China is engaged in mass internment, forced labor, forced sterilization and persecution of minority Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang Province. Estimates have suggested that as many as 1 million to 3 million Uyghur and other ethnic Muslim minorities are imprisoned in Chinese internment camps where they are said to undergo brainwashing to make them more culturally Chinese.
These abuses were declared a genocide and crime against humanity by the U.S. government under the Trump administration in January and reaffirmed by the Biden administration after taking office.
Many have called for a U.S. boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing due to the CCP’s human rights abuses and oppression of Uyghur Muslims. International human rights activists have also criticized the Chinese government for its religious freedom violations targeting Christians, Falun Gong practitioners and Tibetan Buddhists.
Former Vice President Mike Pence called on President Joe Biden to call for the Winter Olympics to be moved out of Beijing during a U.S.-China relations speech at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.
“President Biden should make a clear and unequivocal demand that the 2022 Winter Olympics be moved from Beijing unless China comes clean on the origins of COVID-19 and immediately ends persecution of the Uyghur people,” Pence said.
“The Olympics should only take place in countries that respect fundamental human rights and the well-being of mankind,” he continued.
In April, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said an Olympics boycott was not being discussed by the Biden administration.
The U.S. State Department lists China as a country of particular concern for its “systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations” of human rights and religious freedom.
Former U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Commissioner Johnnie Moore said the world largely ignored the dire situation in the Uyghur province, which has only exacerbated over time.
“This is not the time to give the Chinese Communist Party one inch. …,” Moore, an evangelical author, public relations executive and president of Congress of Christian Leaders, said in April. “This issue is an issue that sits alone in its severity and its impact, and we speak with one concerted voice on [its severity].”
Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org