Bill Would Check Supply Chains for Forced Uighur Labor in China

Bill Would Check Supply Chains for Forced Uighur Labor in China

(Bloomberg) -- Goods made with forced labor in China would be banned from the U.S. market under legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers Wednesday.

The measure would ban goods manufactured in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region under the presumption that they are produced using forced labor. Products from the region could enter the U.S. only if Customs and Border Protection certifies they were not produced by those means.

The bill introduction accompanies a report from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that found that the use of forced labor is part of an official Chinese government policy to suppress and control ethnic minorities in the country. Companies including Adidas AG, Coca-Cola Co., Costco Wholesale Corp., Kraft Heinz Co. and Nike Inc. are listed in the report and the bill as potentially using suppliers connected to forced labor in China.

Coca-Cola spokesperson Scott Leith cited an internal audit and said the company “prohibits the use of all forms of forced labor, including prison labor, indentured labor, bonded labor, military labor, slave labor and human trafficking, including by any company that directly supplies or provides services to our business.”

Nike said it doesn’t directly source products from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and the company is “conducting ongoing diligence with our suppliers in China to identify and assess potential risks related to employment“ of people in the region. Nike’s statement was published Tuesday in response to several reports on the issue.

A Costco representative wasn’t available to respond to questions. Kraft Heinz didn’t immediately answer a request for comment.

The bipartisan measure, introduced by House Democrat Jim McGovern and Senate Republican Marco Rubio, includes the threat of sanctions on individuals found to be facilitating or benefiting from forced labor in China. It would also create new Securities and Exchange Commission reporting requirements to force U.S. companies to reveal whether they are receiving materials produced by forced labor in China or working with Chinese entities running forced labor camps in the Xianjiang region.

Congress last year passed several bipartisan measures toughening U.S. policy toward China, including legislation aimed at supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The House passed a bill in December supporting the Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group, prompting threats of retaliation from China. The Senate is working on a different version of the legislation that is expected to be taken up in the coming weeks.

Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross calling on the department to prevent American companies and consumers from buying goods produced by forced labor in Xinjiang.

--With assistance from Eben Novy-Williams and Deena Shanker.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Flatley in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at, Anna Edgerton

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Get Regular Updates