Biden to Sign Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act: White House

President Joe Biden will sign a bill that would ban all goods from the Xinjiang region in China, where millions of Uyghurs are being forced to work in concentration camps, the White House said Tuesday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki made the announcement during a briefing in Washington.

“We have been clear that share Congress’s view that action must be taken to hold the PRC accountable for its human rights abuses and to address forced labor in Xinjiang,” she said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

The bill in question is called the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. It was passed by the House last week after the Senate approved it over the summer. A single lawmaker across both chambers voted against the bill, but it had not been clear whether Biden would sign it.

The approved text will be updated and fresh votes will need to be held on the updated version, per an agreement between Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

“We will be moving our bill through both chambers & to President Biden’s desk as quickly as possible,” McGovern said in a statement.

The White House provided input on the changes, though Psaki declined to share details.

“Our effort is often to provide technical assistance to ensure that bills are implementable,” she said.

Re-education centre Xinjiang
A perimeter fence is constructed around what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Dabancheng in Xinjiang, China, on Sept. 4, 2018. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Uyghurs are an ethnic group whose homeland was seized by China in 1950.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party since then has ramped up efforts to surveil and imprison Uyghurs, including introducing strict social capital systems and throwing millions into forced labor camps that churn out products purchased by countries around the world.

U.S. officials have described what’s happening as a genocide.

The forced labor act has attracted opposition from large companies like Nike and Coca-Cola, which use factories in Xinjiang to make products.

A bipartisan group led by McGovern and Rubio found last year (pdf) that Nike, Coca-Cola, and other corporations like Adidas and Costco have been linked to forced labor in the region.

“It’s a big corporations who benefit from slave labor problem,” Rubio wrote on Twitter this month.

From The Epoch Times