Five Chinese companies were targeted with trade bans by the US administration over allegations of forced labour of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, the White House said on Thursday.
In a statement, the Biden administration said it banned the imports of a key solar panel material from Chinese-based Hoshine Silicon Industry Co while at the same time restricting exports of “commodities, software, and technology” to Hoshine.
The other Chinese firms on the U.S. economic blacklist were Xinjiang Daqo New Energy Co, Xinjiang East Hope Nonferrous Metals Co, Xinjiang GCL New Energy Material Co, and the paramilitary Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC).
At least some of the companies are major manufacturers of monocrystalline silicon and polysilicon used in solar panel production.
Citing the G7’s recent pledge to clean up the global supply chain, the US said the five companies were involved with the forced labour of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the Chinese province.
“These actions demonstrate our commitment to imposing additional costs on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for engaging in cruel and inhumane forced labour practices and ensuring that Beijing plays by the rules of fair trade as part of the rules-based international order,” the White House said.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said separately: “As we made clear during this month’s G7 summit, the United States is committed to employing all of its tools, including export controls, to ensure that global supply chains are free from the use of forced labour and technology is not misused to abuse human rights.”
Beijing has dismissed accusations of genocide and forced labour in Xinjiang as lies.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, reacting to earlier reports of the U.S. action, said on Thursday that China would take “all necessary measures” to protect its companies’ rights and interests.
The White House, in its statement, said the entities’ practices ran counter not only to American values but also tipped the scales against U.S. workers “by exploiting workers and artificially suppressing wages”. It noted the Biden administration’s push to boost the U.S. solar industry.
Having the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seize imports from Hoshine was “based on information reasonably indicating that Hoshine used forced labour to manufacture silica-based products,” it added.
Hoshine Silicon Industry earlier said on an interactive investor platform that it does not export industrial silicon to the United States directly, which would limit the ban’s impact.
Xinjiang Daqo New Energy Co, in an email to Reuters, said it had “zero tolerance” towards forced labour, and does not directly sell or buy from the United States so there would be no “significant impact” on its business.
The other companies or their parent firms, including XPCC, did not to requests for comment, or could not be reached. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)