The Chinese government has warned the Biden administration not to enforce a new law that bans imports from the Xianjing province unless it can be proven that the products were not made by forced labor.
What Happened: Bloomberg reported that the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which was signed into law in December and takes effect on June 21, was created in response to reports of grievous human rights abuses by the Chinese government against the Uyghur Muslim minority population.
But China’s government stated the new law would “severely” damage ties if it begins to reject Chinese imports.
“If the act is implemented, it will severely disrupt normal cooperation between China and the US, and global industrial and production chains,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday at a press briefing in Beijing, adding that the law will “hobble China’s development.”
Zhao also cautioned that “if the US insists on doing so, China will take robust measures to uphold its own rights and interests as well as its dignity.” However, Zhao did not offer any details to go with the threat.
What Happens Next: The new law operates under the belief that all Xinjiang-made products were created by forced labor and insists that importers produce “clear and compelling evidence” that determines the items were not created by an imprisoned workforce.
The situation in Xinjiang has been challenging to Western companies who are not eager to displease the prickly Chinese leadership with even the vaguest suggestion that all is not well in the province.
Even the brashly loquacious Elon Musk has taken on self-enforced silence on the subject, when Tesla TSLA opened a showroom in Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi on Dec. 31. The news of the showroom was announced by Tesla’s account on the China-facing Weibo social media platform but not shared on Musk’s preferred Twitter TWTR platform — and nor did Musk repeated questions tweeted to him by Benzinga regarding his business dealings in Xinjiang.
Photo: Leo Reynolds / Flickr Creative Commons
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