U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was able to get his “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act” through a key committee last week.
When he brought the bill back at the start of the year, Rubio’s office offered some of the details of the proposal which has U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oreg., as the main cosponsor.
“This bipartisan bill will ensure that goods made with Uyghur forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) do not enter the United States. Earlier this year, the State Department issued a determination that the Chinese Communist Party is committing crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,” Rubio’s office noted.
“As the Chinese Communist Party is committing egregious human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, including genocide and crimes against humanity, there is no excuse to turn a blind eye. We must instead do everything in our power to stop them.” Rubio said. “This bill is an important step in that direction. My bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would ensure that the CCP is not profiting from its abuses by stopping products made with Uyghur forced labor from entering our supply chains.”
“For years, the Chinese government has been committing genocide in Xinjiang, subjecting Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities to torture, imprisonment, forced labor, and pressure to abandon their religious and cultural practices,” said Merkley, who, like Rubio, sits on both the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC). “The fact that some of the products they’ve been forced to produce are ending up on American shelves is disturbing and unacceptable. We must ban the importation of these goods to ensure that we are not complicit in the genocide, and fully commit ourselves to holding the perpetrators accountable for these atrocities.”
Rubio rounded up more than 50 cosponsors including U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and guided the bill through the Foreign Relations Committee last week.
“Today’s committee passage of this bipartisan bill is a significant step in ensuring Beijing is not profiting from its genocide and crimes against Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang,” Rubio said. “We cannot turn a blind eye to the CCP’s ongoing crimes against humanity. We must enact legislation to prevent products, made with forced labor, from entering our nation’s supply chains. I hope the full Senate will quickly pass this bill.”
“Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang are being tortured, imprisoned, forced into labor, and pressured to abandon their religious and cultural practices by the Chinese government,” Merkley said, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and the chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC). “America can’t stay silent in the face of this genocide, nor can we be complicit—meaning we have to make sure that items produced through such forced labor are not sold on American soil. That’s why it’s so crucial that we pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, ban the importation of these goods, and continue to do everything we can hold the perpetrators of this genocide accountable.”
Last year, Rubio and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., teamed up on the bill which cleared the U.S. House on a 406-3 vote in September. However, Rubio’s bill stalled before the Foreign Relations Committee.
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