The U.S. Senate passed a new law that would effectively ban imports of products from China's Xinjiang region. The passing of the law is the latest economic sanction imposed by the U.S. against China over allegations of genocide and its persecution of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities.
Under the new legislation, called the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, all products deemed to be made with forced labor are banned from entering the country. Some products can still enter the country but only if they are certified first by U.S. authorities.
The new law passed through the Senate by a unanimous vote. The bipartisan legislation still needs to pass the House of Representatives before it can be sent to U.S. President Joe Biden in the White House to be signed into law.
Officials have not yet announced when the legislation will be submitted to the House of Representatives. Republican Senator Marco Rubio along with Democrat Jeff Merkley submitted the initial proposal.
Rubio said the law should be a clear message to China that the U.S. will not "turn a blind eye to the CCP's ongoing crimes against humanity." Merkley said that American companies should not be allowed to profit from the human rights abuses and consumers should not be inadvertently forced to purchase products made from slave labor.
Democratic and Republican officials said they expect the legislation to get strong support in the House. Experts said the House is likely to unanimously vote in favor of the measure.
Several products with reasonable evidence of forced labor are still being listed down but the burden of proof will ultimately be the responsibility of the importers. Experts said the legislation will expand upon the restrictions imposed on products from Xinjiang, including existing bans on Xinjiang-made cotton, tomatoes and solar products.
Earlier in the week, the Biden administration issued a business advisory warning to American companies over their continued business and investments in the Xinjiang region. Officials said companies found to be guilty of engaging in business in the region could face legal consequences for violating U.S. laws.