July 1, 2020

US government advisory warns businesses of supply chain human rights abuses in China

On July 1, 2020, The US Department of State, along with the US Department of the Treasury , US Department of Commerce, and the US Department of Homeland Security, issued the Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory to caution businesses against possible supply chain exposure to entities that use labor and goods from the Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang), due to the prevalence of human rights abuses such as forced labor, in that region.  According to the advisory, the government of the People’s Republic of  China (PRC) continues its campaign of repression, not only against Xinjian, but also the Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, ethnic Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minorities groups, targeting these groups with forced sterilization, oppressive surveillance, and severe physical and psychological abuse. The advisory recommends that businesses make every effort to mitigate its legal, economic, and reputational risks by applying appropriate industry due diligence policies and procedures. 

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo also issued a statement about the advisory, reminding businesses that the use of forced labor by the PRC is not confined to the Xinjian region, but is taking place across China, noting that the Chinese Communist Party, since 2017, has increased its efforts to oppress various Muslim minority groups by encouraging private sector manufacturers to use arbitrary detentions and forced labor, in arrangements facilitated by the government. 

In a related statement, the State Department’s Office of the Spokesperson issued a Fact Sheet highlighting the three primary types of supply chain activities that human rights abusers are likely to be engaged, urging business to avoid the following:  1) assisting in the development of surveillance tools for the PRC in Xinjian, 2) relying on labor or goods from Xinjian or any factories in China that utilize forced labor tactics; and 3) aiding in the construction of internment facilities to detain Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups or supporting businesses in close proximity to these construction projects.

Dept. of Treasury Press Release | Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory | Pompeo Press Statement | Dept. of State Fact Sheet