Lawmakers Unveil New Law To Crack Down On Chinese Slave Labor

( Arizona legislators are following the US Congress’ lead, introducing legislation seeking to combat China’s use of slave labor from the Xinjiang province.

Arizona State Representative Justin Wilmeth is sponsoring HB2488, bipartisan legislation that would prevent the state or other public entities in Arizona from entering into a contract with any company that relies on or uses Chinese forced labor.

In a statement, Rep Wilmeth said HB2488 “sends a strong message” that Arizona “will not do business” with those who would “turn a blind eye” to China’s human rights abuses.

Wilmeth’s legislation currently has nine cosponsors – seven Republicans and two Democrats.

Under the proposed legislation, state and public entities must receive from a company written certification that the company does not, and will not, use or rely on the forced labor of Chinese ethnic minorities including the Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

In 2020, the United States began restricting imports of products from four Xinjiang companies suspected of using Uyghur slaves. And in January 2021, the Trump administration ordered a stop to imports of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang.

In late December, President Biden signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, the legislation barring imports of Chinese products made through the use of slave labor in the Xinjiang province.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act creates the legal presumption that goods made in the Xinjiang province or with raw materials from Xinjiang are made through forced labor and therefore barred from entry into the US. It is the responsibility of US importers to provide “clear and convincing” evidence that their Xinjiang supplier does not use forced labor.

China has vehemently denied the accusations that it engages in forced labor in Xinjiang. After the UFLPA was signed by President Biden, China’s embassy in Washington blasted the US for malicious slander and called the law a “gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed its “strong indignation” and opposition to the law.