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Doing business in Xinjiang risks violating federal law, says US government
14/07/2021
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Young uighur mother with child in Kashgar, China

Ongoing human rights abuses in China, including state-sponsored forced labour, forced population control measures, and mass detention, means American businesses connected to the Xinjiang region are at high risk of violating US law, the federal government has warned.

In collaboration with the departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Labor an updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory has been issued that alerts businesses to the heightened supply chain risks and investment links to entities complicit in state-sponsored crimes against humanity.

In a press statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the updated document noted that the Chinese “government is perpetrating genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang”.

“The labour and human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, China, are egregious, systematic, and ongoing,” said US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Any company doing business in this region should take heed: these are reprehensible and illegal practices, and the goods produced under these conditions have no place in the US economy.”

Beijing continues to facilitate genocide and crimes against humanity against Uighurs – who are predominantly Muslim – and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups, said the DoL in a statement that listed numerous offences by the Chinese government, including imprisonment, torture, rape, forced sterilisation and persecution, including through forced labour, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, expression, and movement.

The updated advisory stresses that companies and individuals doing business in Xinjiang do not currently have the capacity to engage in adequate due diligence, given the limitations imposed by the Chinese government. Therefore, those that do not exit supply chains, ventures, or investments connected to Xinjiang run a high risk of violating US law.

In June, the Labor Department added polysilicon to its list of goods produced by child or forced labour in China.

The list also contains other products from China with links to forced labor in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region or by Uighur workers transferred to other parts of China, including cotton, garments, footwear, electronics, gloves, hair products, textiles, thread/yarn, and tomato products.

The call for businesses to sever ties with Xinjiang continues to grow as politicians around the world, including in the UK, EU, and Australia and New Zealand, consider new corporate accountability legislation designed to put pressure on China.

The Xinjiang region produces approximately 85% of China’s cotton and accounts for 20% of the world’s supply.

Earlier this month, France opened a “crimes against humanity” probe into Uniqlo, Zara-owner Inditex, textile firm SMCP, and Skechers, following claims the four fashion brands are profiting from the use of forced labour in Xinjiang, claims the fashion brands deny.

Beijing continues to refute allegations it is engaged in genocide and other crimes against humanity, has attacked its critics’ human rights records, and has launched its own economic sanctions against individuals and organisations, it claims, have “maliciously” spread “lies and disinformation” about Xinjiang.