Correspondent in Washington
The US House of Representatives voted almost unanimously, with only one vote against, a bill that notably restricts imports of products. made in Xinjiang provinceBecause, according to the US government, there the communist regime forces the minority of the predominantly Muslim Uighur people to forced labor. The White House has openly accused China of committing genocide in that area, and will boycott the Winter Olympics in February in Beijing by not sending diplomats.
Before the vote, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, He said that “at this time, Beijing is orchestrating a brutal pressure campaign against the Uyghur people and
other Muslim minorities. “In Xinjiang and throughout China, millions of people are resisting serious human rights abuses: mass surveillance and disciplinary policing, mass torture including confinement and forced sterilizations, and intimidation of journalists and human rights activists,” he added. It is what the White House has described as “genocide.”
The bill was passed on Wednesday night with 428 votes in favor and only one against. The only one to vote against was Thomas Massie, a Republican deputy from Kentucky, who recently scandalized part of the United States by congratulating Christmas on Twitter with a photo in which his entire family, including minor children, posed smiling before a tree of christmas with assault rifles Deputy Massie’s team says they voted against it because their view is that one country should not meddle in the internal affairs of another.
The law passed in the House, which must be ratified and then endorsed by the White House, obliges companies that import products made in Xinjiang to “Demonstrate clearly and reliably” that none of these articles has been produced with forced labor. Its ratification in the Senate is not entirely clear, as there has been an intense campaign of pressure from companies of all kinds who believe that these restrictions based on human rights can cause an increase in prices and a decrease in sales, just when the economy recovers from the severe effects of the pandemic.
Although there have been other similar bills in the Senate and the House of Representatives itself, this one was introduced in February, and passed in various committees before this unusual bipartisan vote. The Senate had previously approved a very similar measure, so both texts must now be contrasted and combined.
In the past, the White House has approved trade restrictions with Xinjiang. At the end of last year, the US Customs and Borders department began to prevent imports of cotton and tomato, and their derivatives, from Xinjiang, finding that they are produced with forced labor. Restrictions on solar panels and their components went into effect in June.
In July 2020, US customs authorities seized 13 tons of wigs and hair extensions from China, valued at more than 700,000 euros, that had been taken from prisoners in concentration camps and forced labor in the province. from Xinjiang.
The White House has denounced that the Chinese regime has forced large-scale forced labor of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang province, as a method of subjugating them. There are more than a million Uyghurs detained in concentration camps where they are treated as slaves. Several women have reported that their hair is shaved when they are sent to those concentration camps. When they are released, they are forcibly sent to work in factories.
In addition to those restrictions, Biden maintains the bulk of the tariffs that Trump left in effect, on a total of 350,000 million dollars in annual products, applied to items such as solar panels or steel derivatives. Under an agreement reached in early 2020, Washington reduced approved tariffs in exchange for China buying $ 200 billion of US goods within two years. According to the White House business office, that figure has not been reached.
China, for its part, denies that it commits genocide and uses forced labor.