House passes bill to limit sales of Chinese goods from Uighur region

A bill to place restrictions on the sale of products from the Chinese region of Xinjiang cleared the House on Monday, the latest congressional measure aimed at curbing human rights abuses there.

The Xinjiang Innovation Review and Accountability Act directs the Commerce Department to take more actions, including issuing China an advisory that it is violating intellectual property rules. The bill also suggests bringing the Justice Department in as a federal prosecutor over the matter and instructs President Obama to block any trade benefits in the near future.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the bill’s co-sponsor, said the measure was based on reports of “ongoing human rights abuses” in the region where 1 million to 2 million Muslim Uighurs and Kazakhs are interned in labor camps and ethnic ghettos.

House members including Republican Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) urged the Commerce Department to use its ability to disallow certain products coming from China, including those derived from smelt. The government considers the sale of raw materials from the region “indispensable” to the State-owned steel and mining industries and across the world.

The bill was expected to go to President Obama for his signature.

A global trade dispute with China has been a major thorn in relations between the two countries. The United States formally accused China on Monday of stealing American technology and industrial secrets, a potentially more serious claim that could lead to punitive tariffs.

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