Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) welcomes the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), granting US authorities greater powers to prevent the importation of goods linked to Uyghur forced labor, effective today. Since 2017, Chinese authorities have committed crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghurs in East Turkistan (called the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by China), detaining millions and subjecting them to forced labor inside and outside East Turkistan. Under the new law, goods made in whole or in part in East Turkistan, or produced in China by entities connected to forced labor, are not eligible for importation to the United States.
Numerous products, such as cotton in major clothing brands and polysilicon in solar panels, are linked to forced labor in China, and in East Turkistan specifically. The law establishes a rebuttable presumption: if a product was found to be made in whole or in part in East Turkistan or from a company linked to forced labor, customs officials must ask importers for “clear and convincing evidence” that their goods did not involve forced labor. Companies are currently prevented from evaluating the use of forced labor in East Turkistan due to heavy government surveillance and threats against workers and auditors. It is therefore necessary for companies with operations in East Turkistan to relocate their facilities or supply chains elsewhere.
Executive Director Rushan Abbas said “This legislation means it’s no longer business as usual for companies profiting from forced labor in China. It is imperative that companies identify any supply chain ties to East Turkistan and leave the region or they risk breaking US law and having their goods detained at the border. I trust customs officials will be transparent about their enforcement measures and implement the new law properly. Data should be released on the Customs and Border Protection’s website on a regular basis about the goods it holds, re-exports, excludes, and seizes, including information on the company importing the banned goods, their nature, value, and why the action was taken.”
CFU urges the US government to enforce existing laws to impose monetary penalties on companies importing goods associated with forced labor in China, including bringing criminal cases against corporations that violate the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. It must be made clear to businesses, the Chinese regime, and the American public that the US government will not ignore forced labor, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the Uyghur people.