The United States increased its warnings to companies seeking to do business in China’s Xinjiang province on Tuesday, July 13, due to widespread forced labor and ongoing human rights abuses against minorities in the region.
“Given the seriousness and scope of these abuses, including widespread state-sponsored forced labor and intrusive surveillance, occurring amid ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, businesses and individuals that are part of supply chains, businesses and/or investments associated with Xinjiang, they may be at high risk of violating US law.”
The warning, originally issued in 2020, was reinforced to tell companies doing business in Xinjiang that they risk breaking US laws that prohibit companies from knowingly profiting from forced labour, even if they do so indirectly.
The Departments of State, Treasury, Homeland Security and three other agencies are now telling companies that they “are likely to encounter obstacles in conducting due diligence to identify and prevent complicity in human rights abuses related to Xinjiang.”
See also: US Secretary of State meets with victims of Chinese ‘re-education camps’
This is partly due, according to US agencies, to a lack of transparency on the part of the (Chinese) government and companies, and the “police state atmosphere in Xinjiang”.
“Businesses and individuals should take into account these difficulties, as well as any warning signs and credible reports of the spread of forced labor and other human rights abuses in the region,” the notice said.
The warning extends beyond US corporations and is also directed at venture capital firms and private equity firms.
The United States, under the administration of former President Donald Trump, decided that China was committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, a decision that has continued under the administration of US President Joe Biden.
The Chinese government has routinely denied the existence of concentration camps, despite overwhelming evidence. It is believed that up to one million Uyghur Muslims are held in these camps.
Beijing claims the camps are “re-education centres,” built to reform local residents and teach new skills.
However, survivors and former detainees spoke of brutal and inhuman acts of torture, both physical and psychological, including the forced sterilization of Uyghur women.
* Juan Felipe Vélez Rojas contributed to this note.
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