File photograph: Xinjiang (Evgeni Zotov)
The United States placed new sanctions on 11 Chinese companies, citing involvement or complicity in human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other marginalised groups.
Not only do the sanctions place restrictions on the companies’ access to US goods, but the move puts pressure on international companies like Apple, Google, and Ralph Lauren, to sever ties with now-sanctioned suppliers.
Many of the companies sanctioned were named in a report on forced labour earlier this year, which estimated that “more than 80,000 Uighurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps”.
While nine of the companies were described as participating in these types of forced labour practices, two were sanctioned for conducting “genetic analyses targeted at Muslim minority groups from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.”
“Beijing actively promotes the reprehensible practice of forced labour and abusive DNA collection and analysis schemes to repress its citizens,” said Wilbur Ross, the US secretary of commerce. “This action will ensure that our goods and technologies are not used in the Chinese Communist Party’s despicable offensive against defenseless Muslim minority populations.”
The US has previously sanctioned almost forty companies for similar human rights violations in Xinjiang and recently placed sanctions on Chinese officials for the same reason. In 2019, over 20 countries at the UN Human Rights Council signed a joint letter urging China to end mass detention in Xinjiang.