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Tipsheet

Joe Biden Signs Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into Law

Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law. It was co-authored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the Senate and Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and James McGovern (D-MA) in the House. 

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"This is the most important and impactful action taken thus far by the United States to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their use of slave labor," Rubio said in a press release. "It will fundamentally change our relationship with Beijing. This law should also ensure that Americans no longer unknowingly buy goods made by slaves in China. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration and my colleagues to ensure the new law is implemented correctly and enforced properly."

According to Rubio's press release, the law "will ensure that goods made with the slave labor of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and elsewhere in the People’s Republic of China do not enter the United States." 

The bill passed the House 428-1 and unanimously in the Senate. 

There wasn't much fanfare from the White House, though. A statement posted to the White House Briefing Room simply read: 

On Thursday, December 23, 2021, the President signed into law:

H.R. 6256, which bans imports from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) of the People’s Republic of China and imposes sanctions on foreign individuals responsible for forced labor in the region,

Thank you to Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Representatives McGovern and Chris Smith, and Senators Merkley and Rubio for their leadership.

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As of Thursday afternoon, hours after the bill had been signed into law, Biden has not tweeted about it from either of his Twitter accounts. He did, however, tweet to further cause panic for those who are unvaccinated, as Leah highlighted earlier today. 

Despite President Biden having touted how close he is with China's Xi Jinping, his administration is not exactly the most involved in seeking to help the Uyghur people in their plight. 

Climate czar John Kerry, in particular, has dismissed the idea of having any role in handling these abuses. 

Throughout the bill's path to becoming law, the White House had to fend off rumors that they were lobbying to water it down. 

As I covered previously, there was drama which included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) delay in sending the House bill to the Senate after it had passed. Biden's statement above thanked Pelosi first of all the members for her "leadership." 

The passage of the bill is particularly timely in that earlier this month, the same day that the House bill passed, Chris Jewers of the Daily Mail published an article detailing how "China subjected Uyghur Muslims to genocide through forced sterilisations and abortions 'that must have been authorised at highest levels' tribunal finds. The report confirmed that China has been engaging in genocide against the Uyghur Muslims, who are also forced into slave labor to create products. 

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