Biden signs law banning imports from Chinese Xinjiang region
The US issues an act that virtually bans goods from the Xinjiang Chinese region, despite lobbying from US companies that heavily rely on Chinese imports.
US President Joe Biden signed Thursday a law that virtually bans all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang in response to concerns over alleged forced labor.
The bill, which was approved by Congress last week, bans the import of all goods from the region unless companies offer verifiable proof that production did not involve claimed forced labor.
The signed Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act sets its sights on three products, particularly cotton, of which Xinjiang is one of the world's major producers, tomatoes, and polysilicon, a material used to produce solar panels.
Last week, the Senate unanimously voted to make the US the first country to virtually ban all imports from the region.
The vote came despite lobbying by US firms, many of which are heavily dependent on Chinese suppliers and are already facing massive disruption due to trade disturbances caused by the COVID pandemic.
The law requires the US president to impose sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for the so-called "human rights abuses in the region."
In a statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed the law gives the government "new tools to prevent goods made with forced labor in Xinjiang from entering US markets and to further promote accountability for persons and entities responsible for these abuses."
In response, Beijing on Friday condemned the offensive measure, accusing the US of violating international law and "maliciously slandering" China.
China's Foreign Ministry urged the US to "immediately correct its mistakes," warning to "make a further response," in a statement.
An estimated 20% of clothes imported into the US each year include some cotton from Xinjiang.
The move drew opposition from Beijing, which threatened unspecified countermeasures, warning the US would "pay the price for its wrongdoing."
"The Winter Olympics are not a stage for political shows and political manipulation," Chinese Foreign MinistrySpokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a press briefing.
Beijing confirmed that it establishes vocational training centers in Xinjiang that aim to reduce the allure of extremism.