Advisory warns businesses of risks in northwest China

Uyghur women work in a clothing factory in Hotan County in the Xinjiang province, April 27, 2019. Photo by Azamat Imanaliev
Uyghur women work in a clothing factory in Hotan County in the Xinjiang province, April 27, 2019. Photo by Azamat Imanaliev

By Bob Viglietta

On July 1, the Department of State and the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, and Homeland Security (DHS) issued the Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory as part of the U.S. government’s strategy to promote accountability for human rights abuses in northwest China.  

The advisory highlights the risks for businesses with supply chain links to entities engaged in forced labor and other abuses in the northwest province of Xinjiang and throughout the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Since at least 2017, PRC has detained more than 1million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, ethnic Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups in internment camps designed to eradicate detainees’ cultural and religious identities for indefinite periods, to indoctrinate them with Chinese Communist Party ideology.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls on businesses to refuse to participate in human rights violations and deals that, in his words, “tighten a regime’s grip of repression.” To further stand up against the PRC’s actions in Xinjiang, the U.S. government deemed it necessary to reach out to the business community. The advisory outlines the risks they open themselves up to by doing business with entities in that region engaged in abuses carried out against members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, many of whom are now in internment camps.

The business advisory’s publication represented months of interagency collaboration, drawing on expertise from across the Department, the Bureaus of Economic and Business Affairs; Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; and East Asian and Pacific Affairs to interagency partners in the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and counterparts at the Department of Commerce, DHS, and the National Security Council.

“By following [the advisory’s] guidance, businesses can be more confident that they are not contributing to human rights abuses in China,” said Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach. 

The publication of the advisory stands alongside other actions the U.S. government has taken and continues to take to respond to the PRC’s abuses, including the imposition of financial sanctions, export restrictions, Withhold Release Orders, and visa restrictions against individuals with a leadership role in Xinjiang.

Bob Viglietta is a foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs’ Office of Economic Sanctions and Policy Implementation.

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