WASHINGTON—Last week, Congress passed the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a measure that will enhance the U.S. government’s ability to identify and stop the importation of goods produced by forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region. The act was signed into law by President Joe Biden Thursday. The work of Sen. Marco Rubio and other members of Congress was vital in crafting, improving, and passing the bill.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a menace not only to the American people, our values, and our way of life, but also to the Chinese people themselves. The U.S. has a moral obligation to push back against the CCP’s abuses, and to stop the importation of goods produced by slave labor. It is vital that our policies to do so empower the men and women of federal law enforcement and give them the tools and support they need to carry out this mission.
“The passage of this bill was a direct, necessary response to some of the CCP’s most evil behavior, and also to the lackluster use of existing tools by the Biden administration. The White House even reportedly pressured congressional Democrats to oppose the act because they didn’t want its passage to disrupt the administration’s climate talks with Beijing.
“It is encouraging that Congress is willing to act. More action is needed, especially as the Biden administration fails to take the CCP threat seriously and consistently stand up to Beijing across the board. Congress’ actions are only the beginning of a broader response to the CCP’s use of forced labor. For the bill to be fully implemented, Customs and Border Protection’s Forced Labor Division needs more funds to enforce it. Congress should look for ways in the new year to ensure that this agency receives the funding it needs to ensure that no goods produced with forced labor make their way into U.S. markets.”
More on the act: The approved version of the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act establishes a rebuttable presumption for the Xinjiang region, meaning that all goods originating in Xinjiang will be assumed to have been produced with forced labor unless proven otherwise. This legislation requires the Biden administration to develop a strategy on forced labor in China, including the evaluation of forced labor transfer programs throughout China and even the CCP's use of forced labor in Tibet and elsewhere. This addition to the bill places a heavy emphasis on the need for a more calibrated, tailored approach to combatting forced labor emanating from Xinjiang and places a premium on tackling forced labor wherever it is perpetrated by the CCP.