The White House on Thursday announced that it would ban imports of certain products from China’s Xinjiang region in an effort to crack down on forced labor, The New York Times reports.
Much of the world's supply of polysilicon, which is used to make solar panels, originates in Xinjiang, where the US has accused China of committing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
Under the new directive, Customs and Border Protection will ban the import of silica-based products from the Hoshine Silicon Industry Company and four others that “have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups,” the Commerce Department said.
Products made using those products will also be blacklisted.
Biden caught between human rights and green energy:
The alleged forced labor in the solar panel supply chain has created a problem for the Biden administration, which wants to confront China over its human rights abuses but also wants to expand green energy sources like solar power.
Xinjiang makes about 45% of the world’s polysilicon supply.
A group of House Democrats earlier this month pressed Customs and Border Protection to crack down on the imports, writing that there is “overwhelming evidence of the use of forced labor in polysilicon production,” adding, “Our government cannot sit idly by.”
China threatens retaliation:
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warned earlier this week that the country may retaliate to the ban.
Zhao accused the US of wanting “turmoil in Xinjiang to contain China’s development.”
“The U.S. is using lies as its basis,” he said. “This act not only violates the rules of international trade rules and market economies, it is also damaging global industry and supply chains.”