The United States Senate passed legislation Wednesday which bans the import of products from China’s Xinjiang region. U.S. officials say it is the latest action taken against China to punish Beijing for the ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and Muslim groups.
The bipartisan measure was passed unanimously and shifts the burden of proof to importers. “The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would create a ‘rebuttable presumption’ assuming goods manufactured in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and therefore banned under the 1930 Tariff Act unless otherwise certified by U.S. authorities” reports Reuters.
Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced the legislation along with Democrat Jeff Merkley. “We will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s ongoing crimes against humanity, and we will not allow corporations a free pass to profit from those horrific abuses” stated Senator Rubio.
“No American corporation should profit from these abuses. No American consumer should be inadvertently purchasing products from slave labor” said Senator Merkley. “Rights groups, researchers, former residents and some Western lawmakers and officials say Xinjiang authorities have facilitated forced labor by detaining around a million Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim minorities since 2016.”
The bill is expected to have overwhelming support in the House, and “the bill would go beyond steps already taken to secure U.S. supply chains in the face of allegations of rights abuses in China, including existing bans on Xinjian tomatoes, cotton and some solar products” reports Reuters.
Nike Executive: ‘Nike is a Brand That is of China and For China’
“Nike is a brand that is of China and for China” stated the company’s Chief executive John Donahoe. The comment was made during a call with Wall Street analysts about Nike’s latest earnings report and in response to a question about the competition of Chinese brands.
Donahoe made “a robust defense of the firm’s business in China after facing a consumer boycott there” reported the BBC. Nike has received backlash over doing business in Xinjiang, where millions of China’s Muslim minorities called Uyghurs reside.
The BBC notes “Uyghurs have been detained at camps where allegations of torture, forced labor and sexual abuse have emerged. China has denied these claims saying the camps are ‘re-education’ facilities aimed at lifting Uyghurs out of poverty.”
Donahoe said he remained confident that China would continue to be a fast-growing market for Nike as “we’ve always taken a long term view. We’ve been in China for over 40 years.” He added, “Phil [Knight] invested significant time and energy in China in the early days and today we’re the largest sports brand there.”
BBC reports of Nike being boycotted in China:
Several Western brands, including Nike and Swedish fashion retailer H&M, recently faced a backlash from Chinese shoppers after the firms expressed concerns about the alleged use of Uyghur forced labor in cotton production.
In March, a group of Western countries imposed sanctions on officials in China over rights abuses against the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority group.
The sanctions were introduced as a coordinated effort by the European Union, UK, US and Canada.
In December, the BBC published an investigation based on new research showing China was forcing hundreds of thousands of minorities including Uyghurs into manual labour in Xinjiang’s cotton fields.
Nonetheless, Nike’s fourth-quarter earnings showed revenues doubled to a better-than-expected $12.3 billion for the three months. “That helped it bounce back to a $1.5bn profit, from a $790m loss during the depths of the pandemic a year earlier” reports BBC.
“The figures also showed that revenue in China rose to more than $1.9bn, but missed Wall Street expectations of $2.2bn.” Donahue remains confident China will continue to be a fast-growing market for Nike.
Sen. Rubio: For Cuban Government ‘It’s All About Control’
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a speech in front of Congress discussing how the Cuban government is to blame for the problems afflicting the Cuban people, and that their government will force the Cuban people to suffer as long as they can remain in control.
Rubio addressed the idea of sending items to the Cuban people, noting that all products will first be handled by the Cuban government. He said, “You can open up all you want. We can pass a bill here that says, ‘Open to Cuba. A hundred percent open.’ Full free trade, you can do whatever you want. At the end of the day, the Cuban regime will control that opening. It’s not just what we want to do, it’s what they want to do.”
“You want to do tourism?” Rubio continued. “We tried that in 2015 [with] the Obama changes and you know what they did, they said, ‘Thank you. We love the fact you’re coming here as [tourists].’ Guess what? All the tourist sites are owned by a holding company named GAESA controlled by the Cuban military, so everything comes through [their] hands.”
“You want to send them food?” He said. “That’s great. Guess who gets it? Acopio, which is a government military-owned agriculture company. You can’t sell it to a small grocery store in Cuba, or even a food wholesaler. It goes to the Cuban government.”
“You want to send money?” He continued. “They take it. You know why? Because socialism is about control, and all of these things — tourism, food, money, medicine — it’s all about control.”
“You want to do humanitarian aid?” Rubio continued. “Let’s get Red Cross, any of these vetted NGOs in the world should be allowed going to Cuba. They won’t allow it, because it’s embarrassing to them.”
Rubio added, “They will use any opening as a tool — as a weapon — against their people because that’s what socialism does. That’s what these Marxists do in Cuba. They will use anything as a weapon against the people of Cuba.”
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