Update bill in US Congress targets China’s forced labor system in Xinjiang, Tibet

China sanctions US and Canadian individuals, entities in spat over Xinjiang situation. (Photo courtesy: AP)

(TibetanReview.net, Feb20’21) – A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the US House of Representatives on Feb 18 to include coerced labor in Tibet in an earlier version of the bill, prohibiting goods made by Uyghur forced labor from entering the United States. It will also mandate a US government enforcement strategy for dealing with coerced Tibetan labor too, said Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) Feb 18.

The earlier version passed the House in September 2020 by a vote of 406-3.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act will create a “rebuttable presumption” that goods made in Xinjiang—which Uyghurs know as East Turkestan—are the result of forced labor and cannot enter the United States, unless there is “clear and convincing” evidence to the contrary, the group said.

The updated House bill newly includes references to Tibet, including the finding that, “hundreds of thousands of rural residents of the Tibet Autonomous Region participated in ‘military-style’ training, ideological education, and vocational training before being transferred to job postings in the [Tibet] Autonomous Region or elsewhere in China.”

This bill was introduced by Reps. James P. McGovern, D-Mass., Chris Smith, R-NJ, Thomas R Suozzi, D-NY, Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo, Tom Malinowski, D-NJ, Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Jennifer Wexton, D-Va.

The updated bill mandates the US Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force to produce a strategy to “effectively address forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China or [goods] made by Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tibetans, or members of other persecuted groups [through forced labor] in any other part of the People’s Republic of China.”

ICT said this enforcement strategy will have to include a list of products made wholly or partly by the involuntary labor of Tibetans or members of the other persecuted groups, as well as a list of businesses that have sold such products in the United States.

The issue of coerced labor in Tibet came into the picture after scholar Adrian Zenz published a groundbreaking report in Sep 2020, exposing a large-scale coercive labor program in Chinese occupied Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Zenz’s research revealed that the program pushed more than half a million rural Tibetans farmers and herdsmen off their land into military-style training centers in just the first seven months of 2020.

Such trained Tibetans were then sent to other areas of Tibet and China and pushed into low-wage factory and construction labor.

ICT said that following this report, more than 60 parliamentarians from 16 countries—including the United States—called on their governments to “take immediate action to condemn these atrocities and to prevent further human rights abuses.”

The 63 parliamentarians were members of The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and Zenz serves as its ethnic minority advisor.


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