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U.S. warns companies of human rights abuses in Chinese supply chain

The U.S. business advisory issued Wednesday warns Americans against doing business in China with links to human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
The U.S. business advisory issued Wednesday warns Americans against doing business in China with links to human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

July 1 (UPI) -- The Trump administration has issued an advisory warning Americans over the risks of doing business in China due to human rights abuses it accuses the communist government of committing against its Muslim-minority population in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

Issued by the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security, the advisory warns Americans that their businesses could be exposed to far-reaching risks due to their supply chains' potential links to forced labor and other human rights abuses in Xinjiang and throughout the Asian nation.

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"CEOs should read this notice closely and be aware of the reputational, economic and legal risks of supporting such assaults on human dignity," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

The State Department said the three primary types of supply chain risks are assisting in developing surveillance tools for China, relying on labor or goods sourced in Xinjiang or from Chinese factories implicated in the use of forced labor from the region and aiding in the construction of internment facilities used to detain Muslim minority groups and nearby facilities.

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China has been accused by rights groups and countries, including the United States of the United Nations, of detaining some 1 million Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in concentration camps in the northwestern territory under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.

A State Department report details the human rights abuses committed against this demographic to include unlawful killings, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention and severe restrictions on religious freedoms, among others including forced labor.

Days before the advisory was issued, a new study was published alleging the Chinese Communist Party was practicing forced sterilization, forced abortion and coercive family planning against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said might meet the legal criteria for genocide under intentional law.

"This shocking news is sadly consistent with the CCP's decades-long callous disregard for the sanctity of human life," Pompeo said, calling on the international community and advocacy groups to stand against China on this matter. "The Chinese Communist Party's brutality affects the rest of the world, too."

China's alleged treatment of its Uyghur population has been a contributing factor for the fraying relations between Beijing and Washington as the Trump administration has repeatedly chastised it over human rights abuses.

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On June 17, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law to punish China over its treatment of its Uyghur citizens through sanctioning individuals and entities the United States deems as responsible.

Nury Turkel, the USCIR commissioner, called this an important step in the fight against "the modern slavery of Uyghur and other Muslims."

"With this business advisory, American companies can no longer claim ignorance of the gross human rights violations in their supply chains," Turkel said in a statement.

The move is expected to further deteriorate the relationship between the two nations and comes in the wake of the United States condemning China for imposing a new national security law on Hong Kong that Pompeo described as the "death knell" for the autonomy of the former British colony.

China has repeatedly balked at the United States' human rights accusations and has threatened to pursue retaliatory actions.

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