On Thursday, President Biden signed a bipartisan bill that will block imports from the from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China and sanction those responsible for forced labor.
There has been months of tension over Uyghur persecution, which the State Department has labeled as genocide.
Biden tweeted a photo of himself signing the bill, saying “Today, I signed the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The United States will continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure supply chains are free from the use of forced labor — including from Xinjiang and other parts of China”.
The bill, which was pushed by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., was passed unanimously in the Senate.
“It contains a series of provisions designed to strengthen the enforcement of section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930,” Fox News reported. The law says goods produced from forced labor “shall not be entitled to entry at any of the ports of the United States”.
On Tuesday, China announced sanctions on U.S. officials including members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The federal government will be responsible in developing a strategy for preventing imports from forced labor. Customs and Border Protection will assume a prohibition “with respect to any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China”.
On Dec. 10, the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions on two officials accused of being involved in the repression of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.
The U.S. has joined other nations in committing to a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics.
Earlier this month, Jen Psaki confirmed the boycott saying “US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang”. “We simply can’t do that,” she added.