By Leigh Hartman

The U.S. government is expanding guidance to help businesses protect their supply chains and investments from the risk of forced labor or other human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

“The updated Advisory highlights the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang given the entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses there and throughout China,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a July 13 statement.

The State Department and five other U.S. government agencies on July 13 issued the updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory (PDF, 697KB). It warns businesses about the legal, economic and reputational risks of supply chains tied to the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) abuses in Xinjiang. Companies that source products from Xinjiang, it notes, run a high risk of violating U.S. law.

Blinken linked the advisory to ongoing U.S. and international partner efforts to hold the PRC accountable for forced labor, crimes against humanity and genocide in Xinjiang.

The new advisory updates the U.S. government’s original July 1, 2020, version.

Since at least March 2017, the PRC has conducted a campaign of repression against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.

The new advisory warns that many PRC-based firms are complicit in PRC crimes, including imprisoning more than 1 million people in internment camps and widespread surveillance and state-sponsored forced labor in industries, including agriculture, mining, renewable energy and textiles.

The U.S. government urges businesses and investors to review their supply chains and business deals for companies or products tied to Xinjiang. It warns firms not to work with companies in China that use forced labor, supply technology to companies engaged in surveillance or finance entities that enable repression.

Businesses, researchers, investors and others “should be aware of the significant reputational, economic, and legal risks of involvement with entities or individuals in or linked to Xinjiang that engage in human rights abuses,” the advisory says.

The advisory also provides due diligence guidance for surveillance technologies and updated information on U.S. government efforts to deter PRC human rights violations. These include sanctions against PRC officials responsible for human rights abuses and enforcement of Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits the import of goods reasonably believed to have been made with forced labor.

Banner image: The U.S. government is urging companies to ensure that the forced labor of people from Xinjiang is not used in their supply chains. Here, men are seen working in Xinjiang during a government-organized trip for foreign journalists. (© Mark Schiefelbein/AP Images)