Beijing has said that the United States has “no scruples about smearing China by every means” after Congress passed a bill against the Xinjiang region and imposed new sanctions to the area for alleged human rights abuses.
US senators on Thursday gave final congressional approval to the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act banning imports from the Xinjiang region unless businesses can prove they were produced without forced labor, targeting the alleged human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in the area.
The legislation is the latest in a series of intensifying US penalties over China’s alleged human rights violations.
Washington claims there is an ongoing campaign of rights abuse against Uyghurs and other Muslim groups in the Xinjiang region. China denies any wrongdoing there, saying the allegations are fabricated.
The Biden administration on Thursday also slapped sanctions on 34 Chinese companies accusing them of supporting or in connection to the Chinese military and the country’s human rights abuses.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Friday the American actions show “that the US has no scruples about smearing China by every means,” The Associated Press reported.
“The relevant actions seriously undermine the principles of market economy and international economic and trade rules, and seriously damage the interests of Chinese institutions and enterprises,” Wang said.
“China strongly deplores and rejects that and urges the US to immediately correct its mistake. China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese institutions and enterprises,” Wang added.
On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed the legislation by unanimous voice vote after lawmakers agreed on a compromise that eliminated differences between bills introduced in the House and Senate.
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 claim 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.”