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US bill seeks ‘enhanced’ Uyghur genocide sanctions

France’s Senate also approves a bill seeking an E.U. version of America’s ban on imports tied to slave labor.

A car passes a billboard showing machines harvesting cotton outside a Huafu Fashion plant in Aksu in western China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, April 20, 2021.

A bill introduced into the U.S. Senate on Wednesday would force businesses to disclose links to forced Uyghur labor to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provide funds for those who have escaped the Xinjiang region to counter Chinese propaganda. It follows the passage on Thursday of a bill in France’s Senate that urges the European Union to copy the U.S. ban on the import of goods linked to forced Uyghur labor, which French lawmakers say has rerouted many such goods into the European single market. Besides requiring the SEC filing, the new U.S. Senate bill would expand existing travel restrictions on Chinese officials linked to the genocide and provide further funding for “broadcast initiatives to counter Chinese propaganda,” according to a press release. Introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, the Uyghur Genocide Accountability and Sanctions Act would also provide funding for ongoing Uyghur cultural and linguistic preservation projects. “By building upon current legislation, this bicameral bill aims to enhance the enforcement of secondary sanctions on businesses that offer assistance to the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing atrocities against the Uyghurs,” Rubio said in the press release. If passed, the draft bill would help plug holes in the 2021 Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, and further impose penalties against those profiting from Uyghur slave labor, Rubio and Merkley said.

In this aerial photo, workers walk next to a tractor during planting of a cotton field near Urumqi in western China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, April 21, 2021. (Associated Press)But to become law it still has to pass through committee in the Senate before being introduced to a vote on the floor of the chamber, and then pass the House, too, where it is being sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey. French bill Across the Atlantic, French senators on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution calling for Europe’s own version of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to ban imports tied to slave labor. Sen. Mélanie Vogel, who represents Europe Ecology – The Greens for the constituency of French citizens living abroad, told Radio Free Asia her party introduced the legislation to pressure E.U. officials. Under Europe’s single market, the 27 individual E.U. member states do not have the power to unilaterally change trade policy, with laws over imports and exports unified across the European Union. “This resolution is basically asking for the introduction of a very efficient mechanism at the E.U. level that would ban goods made using forced labor,” Vogel said. “Basically, it’s asking the French government to push for this position at the E.U. level.” She said an existing E.U. proposal on the issue only seeks to ban imports of goods after they are proven to be linked to slave labor in an extensive legal process. But the French Senate preferred a ban “based on the mechanism that was introduced in the U.S,” she said, which assumes Xinjiang-made goods involved slave labor. “So, putting the burden of proof on the companies who want to export goods into the E.U. market, and not on human rights activists to prove there are actually violations of human rights,” she said. “They have to prove they did not use forced labor.” E.U. coordination Such a bill is needed after the 2021 U.S. law diverted many Xinjiang-made goods to Europe, said Dilnur Reyhan, head of the European Uyghur Institute and a Uyghur studies lecturer at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris. “The goods made with Uyghur forced labor that couldn’t enter the U.S. are making their way into the European market. That’s why it’s extremely critical that such legislation needs to pass in Europe as well,” Reyhan told RFA, noting it was only the initial step. “A resolution like this from each E.U. member state is important to pressure their governments. In order to have real impact, all 27 E.U. member states would need to pass a unified piece of legislation.” Edited by Alex Willemyns and Malcolm Foster.

Source of news:RFA

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