Industries & Professions

Congress is again considering an import ban for Xinjiang

A Uighur protest in Washington, DC in 2015. Elvert Barnes

This time, the Foreign Ministry’s genocide label must be taken into account.

A new law introduced in the House of Representatives would ban all imports from China’s Xinjiang region unless it was proven that they were not made using forced labor.

There is a new bill for this Congress, to be clear. A very similar bill was passed in the House of Representatives with 406-3 votes last October before stalling in the Senate. The Senate is now also considering a version of this legislation.

We have had an election since then, and with it a new Congress, but support for this legislation is likely to remain high. It is not that the new congressional class was elected with the promise of repelling alleged Chinese human rights violations – including forced labor, sexual violence, forced denunciation of religion and culture, and political indoctrination – against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the northwest of this country. And in an even more tangible sign that American pressure will not ease, the Biden administration is taking the time to review the Eleventh Hour decision by the Trump administration to declare the situation in Xinjiang a genocide. The new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already approved the statement made by his predecessor. In his confirmation session, he even said that an import ban on Xinjiang would be a possible next step.

And now, here we are – an import ban is being considered again by Congress. What has to be done now? China has a huge economy that is getting bigger and bigger, which gives it a lot of weight in international affairs. Xinjiang is directly linked to this economy; Global supply chains for well-known brands extend into this Chinese province, which is now increasingly appearing as a huge police state. A law professor argued in a statement in the Wall Street Journal last month (hat tip for “handsome man” George Will) that the term generally requires further action: “Anything that resembles normal business,” he writes, “will turn out to be a joke of genocide. ” He writes:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has identified genocide only six times, two of them in the last quarter of a century: in relation to the atrocities committed by the Islamic state against religious minorities in Syria and Iraq (2016) and the Sudan’s campaign in Darfur (2011). But ISIS and Sudan weren’t exactly major US trading partners.

That’s right, ISIS and Sudan were not important partners. China is. Therefore, Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola did not try to weaken the results of the genocide against Sudan and Syria – they only tried to weaken the Xinjiang export ban law before the last Congress.

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Washington shouldn’t make a joke of this, and the import ban on Xinjiang would be a clear indication that it is not. Despite the Chinese government’s efforts to censor the discussion of what is going on out there, some Chinese are taking this seriously as well. We will keep an eye on the import ban legislation as we move forward.

To find out more about what is happening in Xinjiang, listen to AAM President Scott Paul’s interview with activist Rushan Abbas, whose sister is imprisoned in an indoctrination camp. On this episode, Scott Paul also chats with Penelope Kyristsis of the Worker Rights Consortium, who explains how Western brands are fueling this genocide.

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