President Biden signed a bill into law on Thursday that bans all imports from China’s Xinjiang region over allegations of forced labor as the US continues to ramp up the pressure on Beijing.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act creates a presumption that all goods sourced from Xinjiang are the products of forced labor. US companies that wish to continue to do business in the region can apply for exemptions but must present “clear and convincing evidence” that their supply chain is free of forced labor.
The import ban must be implemented within 180 days of President Biden signing the bill. The legislation could also be used to target Chinese officials with sanctions who the US deems responsible for alleged human rights violations.
The import ban will have a significant impact on Xinjiang’s economy and the US companies who do business in the region. Many US corporations source goods from Xinjiang and some lobbied against the legislation, including Nike and Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola told The New York Times that it “strictly prohibits any type of forced labor in our supply chain” and uses third-party auditors to monitor its suppliers in Xinjiang. But the corporate pressure did not sway Congress, and the bill passed unanimously through the Senate and near-unanimously through the House in a rare show of bipartisanship.
Most of the claims of forced labor in Xinjiang come from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a think tank whose funders include the Pentagon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.