The United States Senate has passed a bill banning all imports from China’s Xinjiang region, marking an effort to stop the religious persecution of Muslim Uyghurs.
The U.S. has already banned imports of Xinjiang cotton and tomatoes.
If passed in the House of Representatives, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would deem all goods manufactured in the region as made with forced labor unless proven otherwise.
The legislation would also require the US Department of Homeland Security to create a list of entities that are associated with the Chinese government’s efforts to repress Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups.
It is estimated that at least a million people from the Xinjiang region have been detained or imprisoned since the Chinese government began its crackdown in 2017. Others that have not been detained are under extensive surveillance and state control, BBC reported.
“We will not turn a blind eye to [the Chinese government’s] ongoing crimes against humanity, and we will not allow corporations a free pass to profit from these horrific abuses,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said in a statement.
The bill, if passed, will have a sweeping impact on the supply chain of businesses across various industries, ranging from fashion to solar. It will also formally back efforts of companies such as Nike and Puma that have sought to boycott Xinjiang cotton but have faced backlash from Chinese consumers.
In March this year, H&M was booted from Chinese eCommerce sites such as Taobao, which is run by Alibaba, as well as JD.com. H&M was also pulled from Alibaba’s map app, Amap, and Baidu Maps over its statement criticizing China’s policy on Uyghurs. The company later pulled the statement from its website.