House Passes Wexton’s Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act
Washington, September 30, 2020
Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton’s (D-VA) Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act passed the House of Representatives today on a bipartisan vote. Wexton’s legislation would require U.S. publicly listed companies to review and actively audit supply chains for forced labor. Recent reports implicate a number of U.S. companies in the Chinese government’s forced labor scheme carried out against ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
"The Chinese government’s horrific persecution of Uyghurs, including the extensive use of forced labor, has reached the supply chains of some of the most recognizable global brands,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “Most Americans would be shocked to learn that the products they use every day -- from the phone in their hand to the shirt on their back -- were likely produced in part with forced labor. Today the House of Representatives sent a strong message that we are watching and complicity in human rights abuses will not be tolerated."
Wexton’s legislation directs the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require publicly traded companies to annually disclose imports of manufactured goods and materials that originate, or are sourced from, forced labor in Xinjiang. Chinese authorities have detained possibly over a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority ethnic groups in “reeducation camps.” Those detained are reportedly subject to harsh abuse and forced to work in factories within the camps and across China. These factories allegedly feed into the supply chains of more than 80 well-known global brands, including many U.S.-based clothing and electronics companies.
Last week, the House passed the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, authored by Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA) and cosponsored by Wexton, which would create a “presumptive rebuttal” for imports coming from Xinjiang.
"Congresswoman Wexton’s Bill, along with my Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which the House passed last week, are both critical pieces of legislation that will hold the Chinese Government accountable for their human rights violations,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “While some in the U.S. are willing to give the Chinese government a pass or look the other way, I’m proud that we’re taking a stand for basic American principles like freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We believe American workers and farmers shouldn’t have to compete with forced labor, and that American consumers shouldn’t be tricked into buying goods made from forced labor in China. I’m glad Congress is sending a loud and clear message that we won’t go along to get along when it comes to our values, and that we will speak out and do something about this possible genocide taking place in China."
Northern Virginia is home to one of the largest Uyghur diasporas in the U.S. Congresswoman Wexton hosted a roundtable last week with Uyghur constituents whose families and loved ones are victims of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party. The full conversation can be viewed on Wexton’s Facebook page here.
The full text of the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act can be found here.