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Congress criticized for delay of Uyghur protection act

Uyghurs detainees in a camp in Lop County, Xinjiang, April 2017. Wikipedia Creative Commons

WASHINGTON D.C. (BP) – A perceived delay in action by the U.S. House of Representatives that would provide protections for the Uyghur people of China is receiving harsh criticism. In a Washington Post op-ed, foreign policy journalist Josh Rogin alleges the Biden administration is privately asking Democrats to slow down and water down the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act that would take measures to against the Chinese Communist Party’s forced labor, forced interment, and forced population control of the Uyghur people.

A Nov. 29 New York Times article said lobbyists are working on behalf of American companies like Apple and Nike to slow the legislation because they benefit from the forced labor.

In March, Sec. of State Antony Blinken claimed China was committing genocide and crimes against humanity as he reference the nearly 12 million Uyghur people being held in labor camps in the Xianjiang province of China.

The bill passed the Senate in July, but has been held up in the House since then. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said on Twitter, “They aren’t blocking my #China anti-slavery bill from being part of the defense bill because of some House rule. They are blocking it because major American corporations benefit from factories that use slave labor.”

In June, messengers to the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting passed a resolution calling on the Chinese government to stop its genocide of the Uyghur and for the U.S. government to take action to pressure the Chinese to do so.

“The reports that the Administration is working to slow down and dilute the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention act are alarming,” said Chelsea Sobolik, director of public policy for the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Commission.

In a Friday (Dec. 3) letter to Secretery of State Antony Blinken, Brent Leatherwood, acting president of the ERLC, wrote: “The Uyghur people are forced to produce goods that are then sold around the world. Currently, any brand sourcing apparel, textiles, yarn, or cotton from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is almost certainly profiting from forced Uyghur labor.”

Leatherwood called on Blinken to “do everything within his power” to help the legislation be passed in the House and make its way to President Biden. “The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is a necessary step for the United States to rightly prioritize human dignity in China,” he wrote.

The Biden administration announced Monday (Dec. 6) it has instituted a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, due to “China’s actions on Taiwan, human rights, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.”

In support of the boycott, Sobolik said, “All factions of the United States Government must exert strong, moral leadership and counter the CCP’s gross violations of human rights and religious freedom.”

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee

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