Under the new bill the Securities and Exchange Commission would to create new rules requiring publicly traded companies to report any links to Xinjiang forced labour

Under the new bill the Securities and Exchange Commission would to create new rules requiring publicly traded companies to report any links to Xinjiang forced labour

Legislation has been reintroduced in the US that would require publicly traded companies to report any links to Xinjiang forced labour as part of their annual disclosure to investors.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act, which passed the US House of Representatives last year by 253-163, has been re-submitted by Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

It wants companies to have a full understanding of their supply chains amid ongoing concerns over the use of forced labour in China, either in facilities located within internment camps in Xinjiang or through state-sponsored labour transfer schemes that pair workers with work assignments in other Chinese provinces. 

The workers are thought to produce goods for some of the best-known clothing, automotive, and technology brands in the world. 

"Consumers and investors have a right to know if their hard-earned dollars are going to companies whose supply chains horrifically utilise the forced labour of religious minorities in mass internment camps," Wexton says. 

"The Chinese government's brutal campaign against Uyghurs has infected global supply chains and corporate America cannot stand idly by. Products made with forced labour have no place on American store shelves."

Wexton's legislation directs the Securities and Exchange Commission to create rules under which publicly traded companies would disclose annually imports of manufactured goods and materials – including textiles and shoes – that originate in or are sourced in part from Xinjiang. 

The US banned imports manufactured with forced labor in 1930, and US companies are required to exercise due diligence in order to know their foreign suppliers, including potential supply chain links to forced labour. 

However, the repressive environment in Xinjiang makes auditing of supply chains nearly impossible, and a number of international auditing organisations recently stopped operating in the region due to restricted access to workers and increased difficulty meeting auditing standards. Despite all the recent attention on forced labour, imports from Xinjiang to the US remarkably doubled last year, the Congresswoman says.

Wexton was recently appointed to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. She believes the Biden administration can work with Congress to confront human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including through the passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act and Congressman Jim McGovern's (D-MA) Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, of which Wexton is a co-sponsor.