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U.S. warns businesses connected to China's Xinjiang region run 'high risk' of violating law

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Key Points
  • The updated advisory strengthens previous U.S. warnings to companies by highlighting potential violations of U.S. law if their operations are linked even "indirectly" to the Chinese government in Xinjiang.
  • On Friday, the Biden administration added 14 Chinese companies and other entities to its economic blacklist over alleged human rights abuses and high-tech surveillance in Xinjiang.
Uyghurs of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM) hold a rally to protest the 71st anniversary of the People's Republic of China in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2020.
Nicholas Kamm| AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Tuesday warned businesses with supply chain and investment ties to China's Xinjiang province that they could face legal consequences, citing growing evidence of genocide and other human rights abuses in the country's northwest region.

The most-pointed line from the Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory – published jointly by the State Department, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, Labor and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative – states that "businesses and individuals that do not exit supply chains, ventures, and/or investments connected to Xinjiang could run a high risk of violating U.S. law."

The updated advisory strengthens previous warnings to companies by highlighting potential violations of U.S. law if their operations are linked even "indirectly" to the Chinese government in Xinjiang.

"The People's Republic of China government continues its horrific abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and elsewhere in China, targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and ethnic Kyrgyz who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups," State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote in a statement Tuesday.

"These abuses include widespread, state-sponsored forced labor and intrusive surveillance, forced population control measures and separation of children from families, mass detention, and other human rights abuses amidst ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity," he added.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

On Friday, the Biden administration added 14 Chinese companies and other entities to its economic blacklist over alleged human rights abuses and high-tech surveillance in Xinjiang.

In March, the United States sanctioned two Chinese officials, citing their roles in serious human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions by the Biden administration complement actions also taken by the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Beijing has previously rejected U.S. charges that it has committed genocide against the Uyghurs, a Muslim population indigenous to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China. The Foreign Ministry called such claims "malicious lies" designed to "smear China" and "frustrate China's development."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has also banned some solar equipment imports from the region.

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