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Rubio, McGovern Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Introducing Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

Mar 12, 2020 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was joined by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), Dick Durbin (D- IL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) in introducing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. This bipartisan and bicameral bill will ensure that goods made in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) imported into the United States are not made with forced labor. Last year, Rubio co-chaired a hearing to highlight the ongoing forced labor, mass internment, and social control of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). 

U.S. Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Jamie Raskin (R-MD), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Joe Wilson (R-SC) introduced companion legislation in the House.

“For far too long the Chinese Communist party has gotten away with the systematic use of forced labor by Uyghur Muslims and other Turkic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,” Rubio said. “While the U.S. Government should take all precautionary measures to ensure that goods made in the XUAR don’t enter our market, companies have a moral duty and responsibility to prove that their sourced products have been produced without forced labor.”

“As Americans, we stand up for freedom—and that means we can’t sit on our hands while China repeatedly and systematically commits horrific human rights abuses against the Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities,” Merkley said. “For years, these individuals have been interned, tortured, interrogated, and brutally forced into labor by the Chinese government. This legislation would crack down on those abuses, by banning importation of the products of this forced labor in the United States. We need to tackle every aspect of these abuses, and this bill is an essential and urgent step in that effort.”

“If the Chinese government will not cease its inhumane exploitation of the Uyghur community, then the United States must do our part to speak up and ensure that goods produced through these horrific labor practices are stopped at our nation’s borders. China must know that we will not stand idly by accepting their exports when these are the labor practices they follow,” Blackburn said.

“The Chinese Communist Party is building its economy on the backs of slave laborers from concentration camps in Xinjiang Province,” Cotton said. “As if the Wuhan coronavirus wasn’t evidence enough, this disturbing revelation shows how America’s dependence on China compromises our security and values. American companies have a legal and moral duty to ensure the goods they purchase are made using free workers who are paid a fair wage.”

“We must hold China accountable for human rights abuses,” Daines said. “This legislation to help stop any goods made by forced labor from entering our markets is critical. We must send a clear and strong message to China that the abuses cannot continue.”

“The Chinese government is making the Uyghur people perform forced labor to supply goods, including for products sold into the American marketplace,” Romney said. “The United States must push back against the atrocities that China commits against the Uyghur people. This legislation makes clear that Congress will hold those responsible for forced labor of the Uyghurs and ensures companies are monitoring their supply chains and circumstances of workers making their products in China.”

“The United States must hold China accountable for its egregious abuses of the Uyghurs. We cannot turn a blind eye. This legislation takes an important first step and will ensure the American economy is not supporting forced labor by Uyghurs,” Van Hollen said.

“It is time for the world – both governments and industry – to stand up for those oppressed in Xinjiang, China. Uyghur Muslims are already suffering in forced re-education camps – modern day concentration camps – and now the Chinese government and western companies are taking advantage of them by exploiting forced labor practices,” Young said. “It is unconscionable that companies would benefit from modern day slavery. These human rights atrocities must stop and I am glad to work with my bipartisan colleagues to shine a light on these abuses.”   

“Thirty years after the brutal crackdown on those aspiring for basic democratic freedoms in Tiananmen Square, China continues to jail and harass its own people for peaceful expressions of speech and thought, and its Uyghur population is facing abhorrent arbitrary mass detention,” Durbin said. “This bill is critical to ensuring transparency in supply chains when it comes to goods imported from Xinjiang to the United States.  Americans do not want to be party to the Chinese government’s abuses.” 

“The Chinese Communist Party has transformed Xinjiang into a technological dystopia and a human rights horror,” Cruz said. “Time and time again from the CCP we see the complete and total disregard for human life and values. I’m proud to support this bill, which will hold CCP officials accountable and ensure American values are protected.” 

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act:

  • Requires corporations to prove with “clear and convincing evidence” that any products imported into the United States and sourced from Xinjiang are not made with forced labor.
  • Requires a determination from the Secretary of State whether forced labor carried out in the XUAR is “widespread and systematic and therefore constitutes atrocities.” The determination is due 90 days after enactment and submitted with the strategy in section 6.
  • Requires the Secretary of State to submit to Congress a strategy report detailing U.S. government efforts to enhance international awareness of and to address the forced labor situation in the XUAR.
  • Requires a list of Chinese entities or their affiliates that use the forced labor of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities.
  • Requires a list of products made by forced labor in the XUAR and a list of businesses that sold such products in the United States.
  • Except in limited circumstances to advance U.S. treaty obligations or national interests, the President shall identify and designate for visa or financial sanctions any foreign person who “knowingly engages” in the forced labor of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the XUAR and any foreign person who knowingly engage in efforts to “contravene United States law regarding the importation of forced labor goods from the XUAR.”
  • Requires a Presidential determination “whether reasonable grounds exist, and an explanation if concluded that no reasonable ground exists for issuing a “Withhold Release Order” pursuant to section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 on six Chinese companies operating in the XUAR.

Rubio is Co-Chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) as well as the Chairman of the SFRC Subcommittee that oversees human rights.