CFU PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 6:00 PM ET
Sabrina Sohail: email@example.com
Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) commends Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) for its hearing today on “Implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act & the Global Supply Chain Impact” with witnesses Anasuya Syam, Laura Murphy, Kit Conklin, and Elfidar Iltebir. The hearing has been a great chance to state the advantages of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) to prevent goods tainted with Uyghur forced labor from entering the US and to suggest improvements to the bill.
The Chair of the committee Congressman Christopher H. Smith stated in his opening remarks that “The genius of the UFLPA is… upon importers to prove that goods made in Xinjiang and elsewhere are free from the taint of forced labor, for we know now, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Xi Jinping has declared war on the Uyghur people, labeling them as terrorists who must be destroyed root and branch.”
Senator Jeff Merkley, co-chair of the committee, commented on the attempts of companies to hide the origin of their goods to circumvent the UFLPA and said that “Companies that resist compliance or look to exploit loopholes need to be held accountable. The US government’s forced labor enforcement task force needs to implement the law even more aggressively with particular attention to the transshipment of Xinjiang-originated goods via third countries.”
“There must be no loophole for companies to profit from the forced labor occurring in my homeland. Multinational corporations with ‘direct-to-consumer’ business models should not be permitted to skirt UFLPA compliance,” said Elfidar Iltebir, President of the Uyghur American Association. “The UFLPA does not shield these individual packages from scrutiny, and enforcement agencies must prioritize targeting shipments from corporations attempting to circumvent the law.”
One of the mechanisms to whichforced labor products are entering the US is due to the De Minimis rule which states that goods with values lower than $800 are not subject to tax and the UFLPA inspection. Anasuya Syam, the Human Rights and Trade Policy Director of the Human Trafficking Legal Center, says “The De Minimis shipping environment is being used to circumvent the UFLPA and the Bloomberg report showed that companies like Shein that are using Xinjiang cotton in their low-value shipment being sent to the United States is a glaring example of the loophole.” Ms. Syam continued “The De Minimis standard cannot be a carte blanche for companies and shippers to send whatever goods they want to the US market, especially goods made using forced labor.”
Laura Murphy, professor of Human Rights and Contemporary Slavery at Sheffield Hallam University said “Some international companies and governments are claiming the UFLPA is merely a product of a trade war between the US and China in an attempt to justify their indifference, but the UFLPA is not a national security measure like certain technology export restrictions nor is it a measure intended to offset economic injury to you as companies and workers like anti-dumping and safeguard duties. The UFLPA fundamentally expresses US support for internationally recognized human rights. It is crucial that the US government encourage our allies to align their laws to prohibit the import of forced labor made goods but this must not be conflated with policies intended to advance geo-political or economic interest.” Dr. Murphy continued with a recommendation “We have identified 55,000 entities in the Uyghur region and 3,300 in textile, I think all of these should be added to the entity list as we presume the whole region is consumed in forced labor.”
Executive Director Rushan Abbas says “As inspiring as it is that the US has become the first country to ban products tainted with Uyghur forced labor, there is a need for consistent monitoring of the implementation. Today’s CECC hearing on the implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and the impact on global supply chains is a critical step in addressing the ongoing human rights abuses in East Turkistan. By holding companies accountable for their actions and ensuring they are not complicit in these abuses, we can help to bring an end to the suffering of the Uyghur people and send a strong message to the Chinese government that their actions will not be tolerated.”
CFU praises the Congressional-Executive Commission on China for its unwavering commitment and tireless efforts to ensure that the United States does not in any way, shape, or form, benefit from the heinous practice of Uyghur slave labor. The Commission’s resolute stance against such abhorrent practices sends a clear message to the world that the United States will not tolerate or condone any form of exploitation or human rights abuses. This work is vital in the fight against Uyghur forced labor and the protection of human rights, and CFU is grateful for the Commission’s leadership and dedication to this critical issue.