Law Designed To Protect Uyghurs Restricts Products From Xinjiang.

Michael Posner
By Michael Posner
A new law that bans the import of goods produced with forced labor in the Xinjiang, China, presumes that goods manufactured there or that include raw materials from that region deploy forced labor for members of the Uyghur community. The law, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, empowers the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to oversee enforcement.

This sweeping new law poses especially serious challenges to companies importing clothing or solar panels into the U.S., because Xinjiang cotton and polysilicon are so widely used in their manufacture. A recent report published by the Department of Homeland Security offers early guidance on how the federal government intends to apply this law and its need for greater resources. While it remains to be seen how effectively the U.S. government will be able to enforce the new law, its adoption reflects the coming together of three significant factors.

First is the dramatic worsening of human rights in China and especially in Xinjiang province. Located in Western China, Xinjiang is the home of 11 million Uyghurs, a Turkic minority whose language, religion and culture are distinctly different from the Han Chinese majority. The Uyghurs have long faced official discrimination by Chinese authorities, but official persecution has intensified greatly in recent years.

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Michael Posner is the Jerome Kohlberg Professor of Ethics and Finance, Professor of Business and Society and Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.