The U.S. Department of State, along with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a business advisory to caution businesses about the risks of supply chain links to entities that engage in human rights abuses, including forced labor, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) and elsewhere in China.
The People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) government continues to carry out a campaign of repression in Xinjiang, targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, ethnic Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups.
The advisory highlights the risks for businesses with supply chain links to entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses in Xinjiang and throughout China. The three primary types of supply chain exposure to entities engaged in human rights abuses discussed in this advisory are:
- Assisting in developing surveillance tools for the P.R.C. government in Xinjiang;
- Relying on labor or goods sourced in Xinjiang, or from factories elsewhere in China implicated in the forced labor of individuals from Xinjiang in their supply chains, given the prevalence of forced labor and other labor abuses in the region; and
- Aiding in the construction of internment facilities used to detain Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority groups, and/or in the construction of manufacturing facilities that are in close proximity to camps operated by businesses accepting subsidies from the P.R.C. government to subject minority groups to forced labor.
Businesses with potential exposure in their supply chain to entities that engage in human rights abuses in Xinjiang or to facilities outside Xinjiang that use forced labor from Xinjiang in the manufacture of goods intended for domestic and international distribution should be aware of the reputational, economic, and legal risks of involvement with such entities.
In order to mitigate reputational and other risks, businesses should apply appropriate industry due diligence policies and procedures.
U.S. Department of State Guidance on Implementing the “UN Guiding Principles” for Transactions Linked to Foreign Government End-Users for Products or Services with Surveillance Capabilities
This guidance is a first-of-its-kind tool intended to provide practical and accessible human rights guidance to U.S. businesses seeking to prevent their products or services with surveillance capabilities from being misused by government end-users to commit human rights abuses.
The Department of State’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international documents. The reports can include specific information on foreign government agencies, including Chinese government agencies.
The Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report grades countries, including China, on a four-tier scale in their efforts to meet the TVPA’s minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking and provides content specific to forced labor and sex trafficking in each country.
The Department of Labor’s annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report focuses on the efforts of certain U.S. trade beneficiary countries and territories, excluding China, to eliminate the worst forms of child labor through legislation, enforcement mechanisms, policies, and social programs.
The Department of Labor maintains a list of goods and their source countries, including China, for which it has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards, as required under the of 2005 and subsequent reauthorizations. Artificial Flowers, Christmas Decorations, Coal, Footwear, Garments, and Nails are included for forced labor of adults; Textiles are included for child labor; and Bricks, Cotton, Electronics, Fireworks, and Toys are included for both forced labor of adults and child labor.
The Department of Labor maintains a list of products and their source countries, including China, which it has a reasonable basis to believe are produced by forced or indentured child labor, pursuant to . This List is intended to ensure that U.S. federal agencies and contracted parties do not procure goods made by forced or indentured child labor. Bricks, Cotton, Electronics, and Toys feature on this list currently.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) report published March 2019 highlights multiple concerning human rights issues, including the mass, arbitrary internment of Uyghur and other Muslim ethnic minorities.
The Responsible Sourcing Tool, developed by the State Department and Verité, assists U.S. federal contractors, procurement officials, and companies to better identify, prevent, and address the risks of human trafficking in their global supply chains.
U.S. CBP’s fact sheet sets out resources to assist companies with strengthening their policies and procedures to mitigate the risk of child and forced labor in their global supply chains.
U.S. CBP publishes WROs issued by the Commissioner and Findings in the Federal Register. CBP does not generally publicize specific detentions, re-exportations, exclusions, or seizures of the subject merchandise that may have resulted from the WROs or findings.
U.S. ICE HSI’s fact sheet provides information on the Forced Labor Program that coordinates criminal investigations into allegations of forced labor (including forced child labor) resulting in the manufacturing or production of goods overseas imported into the United States.