CFU PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 10:00 AM ET
Sabrina Sohail: email@example.com
Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) expresses its deep concern regarding the recent report by Reuters on the U.S. Treasury Department’s clarification that allows “developers of solar energy projects to claim a new subsidy for facilities built with American-made products, even if the panels contain cells made entirely with Chinese materials.” This rule not only disregards the solar industry’s connection to Uyghur forced labor but also creates a potential loophole in the intent of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).
Currently, China holds the leading position as the provider of solar cells and panels globally, primarily due to its cost advantage derived from the exploitation of Uyghur forced labor. The 2021 report “In Broad Daylight – Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains” by Sheffield Hallam University’s Helena Kennedy Centre reveals that almost the entire global solar panel industry is tainted by Uyghur forced labor. This exploitative labor enters the global supply chain from the earliest stages, including the mining of quartz and the production of metallurgical silicon. The report states that in 2020, China accounted for 75% of the global supply of solar-grade polysilicon (a material used in 95% of solar panels), with manufacturers in the Uyghur Region responsible for over 45% of total global production.
The UFLPA, signed in December 2021, establishes a rebuttable presumption that goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in East Turkistan are not entitled to entry into the United States. However, no solar panel manufacturer has publicly announced a supply chain free from products made in China. The new subsidy opportunity will be granted to American solar panel manufacturing companies, requiring only 40% of the cost of manufactured products to be made in the United States. In other words, even if up to 60% of the system’s panels contain cells made entirely with Chinese materials, the solar panels can still be labeled as “Made in America,” including solar cells made with polysilicon mined with Uyghur forced labor.
“The solar industry is a major exploiter of state-sponsored Uyghur forced labor, accounting for 45 percent of the world’s supply. Polysilicon materials are not only produced using coal but are also a product of China’s ongoing Uyghur genocide. There is nothing sustainable in the solar materials produced in East Turkistan, yet the world seems to prioritize financial gain over moral, ethical, and even environmental considerations,” says CFU’s Executive Director Rushan Abbas. “We are deeply disappointed with the recent decision made by the U.S. Treasury Department, which encourages the use of slave-made products and directly conflicts with the intent of the UFLPA. Chinese-made products with slave labor cannot be labeled as ‘Made in America.’ Period. It undermines American values and deceives the consumer. We call on the Treasury Department to reverse its decision and prevent the American market from being tainted with Uyghur forced labor,” Abbas added.
CFU urges the Treasury Department to re-evaluate its decision and close this potential loophole in the UFLPA. We also call on the global community to acknowledge the controversy surrounding the use of materials sourced from or manufactured in East Turkistan for building clean energy facilities and take tangible actions to reduce dependency on China. The objective of reducing carbon emissions can be achieved while upholding our humanitarian principles.