DearColleague.us

Letter

Sending Office: Congressional-Executive Commission on the People’s Republic of China
Sent By:
Jonathan.Stivers@mail.house.gov

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

Cosponsor the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R. 6210)

House Cosponsors: McGovern, Smith (NJ), Suozzi, Hartzler, Malinowski,
Wilson (SC), Raskin, Meadows, Yoho, Gallagher, Tlaib, Wexton  

Senate Cosponsors: Rubio, Merkley, Blackburn, Van Hollen,
Romney, Young, Daines, Cotton, Cruz, Durbin, Warren

Dear Colleague:

We are writing to invite you to cosponsor the
Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R. 6210)
bipartisan legislation to ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China do not enter the United States market.

The Chinese government has engaged in a systematic campaign of repression targeting Uyghurs and other Muslim groups. It is estimated that as many as 1.8 million people have been arbitrarily detained and forced into mass internment camps and subjected to
forced labor, torture, political indoctrination, forced renunciations of faith, and other severe human rights abuses. The U.S. Holocaust Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide recently determined that there is reasonable basis to believe
crimes against humanity are being committed in the XUAR.

There is a widespread and pervasive forced labor system that exists inside the mass internment camps and out, as confirmed by the testimony of camp survivors, satellite imagery, and leaked official documents from the Chinese government. In its 2019 Annual
Report, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China found that goods produced with forced labor included textiles, electronics, food products, shoes, tea, and handicrafts.

Audits to vet products and supply chains are not possible due to the extent forced labor has contaminated the regional economy, the mixing of involuntary labor with voluntary labor, the inability of witnesses to speak freely about working conditions given
heavy government surveillance and intimidation, and the strong incentive of government officials to conceal Chinese government-sponsored forced labor.

While U.S. law prohibits forced labor made goods from entering the American market, global supply chains are still contaminated by goods produced by the forced labor of Uyghurs and other Muslim groups.        

H.R. 6210 will:

  • Create a “rebuttable presumption” of forced labor in the XUAR. Any company wishing to import goods into the U.S. will have to demonstrate a clean supply chain with “clear and convincing evidence.”  
  • Authorize the President to apply targeted sanctions on anyone responsible for the labor trafficking of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities.
  • Direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to address forced labor in the XUAR.
  • Require financial disclosures from U.S. traded businesses about their engagement with Chinese entities that are committing gross human rights abuses in the XUAR.   

It is long past time for companies to reassess their operations and supply chains and find alternatives that do not exploit labor and violate human rights. 

Below is also a Washington Post editorial from March 14, 2020 making the case that stopping the import of goods made with forced labor is a “straightforward and morally imperative” way to respond to the human rights abuses being committed in the
XUAR. 

If you have any questions or would like to co-sponsor the legislation please contact Jonathan Stivers with the Congressional-Executive Commission on China at
Jonathan.Stivers@mail.house.gov or Piero Tozzi with Rep. Chris Smith at
Piero.Tozzi@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

James P. McGovern                                           Christopher H. Smith

Member of Congress                                          Member of Congress

 

Western companies must stop profiting from China’s crimes against humanity

Washington Post
Editorial Board
 

March 14, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/western-companies-must-stop-profiting-from-chinas-crimes-against-humanity/2020/03/13/2cdaeab6-63b7-11ea-845d-e35b0234b136_story.html

INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS to hold China accountable for its campaign of cultural genocide against Uighur and other Muslim minorities have been weak, in part because it’s not easy for outsiders to target concentration camps holding hundreds of thousands of people
in the sprawling and remote Xinjiang region. But there is one way to respond to this extraordinary human rights crime that is both straightforward and morally imperative: Western companies must stop importing and marketing goods produced by Uighur
forced labor.

Several recent reports have
documented how Chinese authorities have forced Uighurs and other Muslims swept up in the crackdown to work in factories producing goods such as textiles, electronics, food products and handicrafts. Some of the factories are in, or adjacent to, the concentration
camps into which Uighurs, Kazakhs and others in Xinjiang have been forcibly herded. But tens of thousands of Uighurs have also been transferred to factories elsewhere in China, under a program with the Orwellian name “Xinjiang
Aid
.”

Shockingly, many of these workers are producing goods directly or indirectly for such Western companies as Adidas,
Nike, Calvin Klein, Apple and Amazon. A report by
the Congressional-Executive Commission on China this month identified 20 Chinese and Western companies that “are suspected of directly employing forced labor or sourcing from suppliers that use it.” In addition to brand-name clothing manufacturers, Coca-Cola,
Costco and Campbell Soup Company are on the list.

A second report, by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, identified 83 foreign and Chinese companies “directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through
potentially abusive labour transfer programs.” In addition to Apple and Amazon (whose founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Post), companies on that list include Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, General Motors and Google.

U.S. companies that purchase or import goods made with forced labor may be in violation of the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits products made “wholly
or in part
” with forced or prison labor, according to the Congressional-Executive Commission. While many of these firms launch investigations to determine whether their supply chains are clean, the commission found that doing so is virtually impossible,
because coerced workers are unable to speak freely to investigators.

As a practical matter, the companies are “willfully ignoring the horrific conditions of forced labor in Xinjiang,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), charged in
a letter this past week to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Mr. Menendez urged action by the Commerce Department to stop the import of tainted goods, including purchasers of Chinese cotton, 84 percent of which comes from Xinjiang.

More stringent measures are proposed by the Congressional-Executive Commission, whose bipartisan congressional leadership introduced legislation
Wednesday that would prohibit the import of all goods produced or manufactured in Xinjiang except for those certified by U.S. customs as not tainted by forced labor.

Importers would have to present customs officials with “clear
and convincing evidence
” that their supply chains were clean, a high standard. And the State Department would be required to report on products made with forced labor in Xinjiang as well as businesses that sold them in the United States.

The United States and other nations probably cannot stop the crimes against humanity China is committing in Xinjiang. But it ought at least to be possible to prevent U.S. and other Western companies from profiting from them.

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Foreign Affairs, Trade

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