US House passes measure clamping down on products from China's Xinjiang

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The US Capitol building is seen in Washington, US, November 16, 2021. (Reuters photo)

The US House of Representatives has passed legislation banning imports from China's Xinjiang region citing alleged human rights violations there.

The bill was passed by unanimous voice vote on Tuesday after lawmakers agreed on a compromise which eliminated differences between bills introduced in the House and Senate.

Last week, the House passed its version of the bill, however, it failed to advance to the Senate.

This time, the Senate is likely to pass the compromise version as soon as Wednesday, which will then send it to the White House, where President Joe Biden has already said will sign it into law.

"The Administration will work closely with Congress to implement this bill to ensure global supply chains are free of forced labor, while simultaneously working to on-shore and third-shore key supply chains, including semiconductors and clean energy," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Washington claims there is an ongoing campaign of rights abuse against Uyghurs and other Muslim groups in Xinjiang region. China denies any wrongdoing there, saying the allegations are fabricated.

Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate have been arguing over the Uyghur legislation for months.

The compromise keeps a provision creating a "rebuttable presumption" that all goods from the western autonomous region of Xinjiang, were made with forced labor, in order to bar such imports.

Activists and UN rights experts say at least one million Muslims have been forced into camps in Xinjiang. Beijing, however, denies reports that Uyghurs are unfairly marginalized, saying it is addressing underdevelopment and lack of jobs in the heavily Uyghur populated areas such as Xinjiang.

Chinese officials have characterized the camps as “vocational education and employment training centers” for “criminals involved in minor offenses.”

Meanwhile, the US Treasury Department imposed economic sanctions on China last week over the same alleged human rights abuses.

China reacted with the spokesman for its foreign ministry, Wang Wenbin, saying the sanctions represented the “wrong decision,” insisting that the United States “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and harming China’s interests.”

“If the US acts recklessly, China will take effective measures to strike back resolutely,” Wenbin said on Monday.


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