US attempts to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor

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US attempts to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor

On March 31, a tractor plants cotton in a field in Xinjiang. CHEN JIANSHENG When US President Joe Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law in December last year, which bans imports from Xinjiang on the pretext of protecting human rights, the Chinese government condemned it because it was based on lies told by anti-China forces.

It warned of the serious consequences that the law will have on bilateral relations, such as disrupting the international trade order and damaging the global industry and supply chains.

The US solar industry is already feeling the pinch of supply disruptions as Chinese solar-panel suppliers have been confined or sent back to the United States over the past several weeks, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The law states that all goods from Xinjiang are made with forced labor and can't be imported unless suppliers prove otherwise. The report said that the level of documentation required by authorities has caught many in the industry off guard.

The impact of the forced labor law on the development of US solar energy projects is obvious, given the fact that up to 45 percent of the polysilicon used in solar panels comes from Xinjiang. The US government said in a worst-case scenario, 10 gigawatts or more of supplies could be delayed, equivalent to nearly half of the US's installed capacity last year, according to an industrial analyst. This adds to the problems the country's solar energy sector is already experiencing as a result of rising materials costs and risks putting in jeopardy Biden's ambitious green energy goal of building a carbon-free power grid by 2035.

The labor rights of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are well protected, and the US law and related bans on products from there are nothing but an act of economic coercion aimed at decoupling China from the rest of the world.

The interests of consumers and companies in both China and the US will only be damaged because of the fact that the world's two largest economies have become highly interdependent over the past four decades. It is hoped that those in the US who continue to try to make Xinjiang an issue to contain China will realize their folly at an early date so that the two countries can return to the path of cooperation. This would be a huge boost to the global economy, which is still struggling to recover from the effects of the COVID 19 epidemic.