Merkley’s Bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Has Been Signed into Law

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, the Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), announced today that legislation he co-authored with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is legislation that will ban U.S. imports of products that are made with slave labor in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, where the Chinese government is committing genocide against the Uyghur minority and forcing Uyghurs to produce consumer goods in work camps, prisons, and factories.

“The United States must send a resounding and unequivocal message against genocide and slave labor wherever these evils appear,” Merkley said. “Now that the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act has reached President Biden’s desk and been signed into law, we can finally ensure that American consumers and businesses can buy goods without inadvertent complicity in China’s horrific human rights abuses. As the Chinese government tries to whitewash their genocide and claim a propaganda victory with the upcoming Olympics, this legislation sends a powerful, bipartisan message that the United States will not turn a blind eye.”

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act had previously passed both the Senate and the House with overwhelming bipartisan support; however, the bill had stalled due to varying details between the Senate and House versions. As the Chair of the CECC, Merkley helped spearhead an effort along with Rubio, CECC Co-Chair Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA-02), and others to iron out the differences and reach a consensus version between the Senate and House to ensure the bill could be voted on, sent to the President’s desk, and signed into law before the end of the year.

With the Beijing Olympic Games looming in early 2022, Merkley has been spearheading an effort at the CECC to spotlight China’s atrocious human rights abuses in the lead-up to the Games—ensuring that China is not able to whitewash horrific abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and throughout the country with a propaganda victory on the world stage. Merkley and McGovern have been, and are continuing to highlight a political prisoner from the CECC’s database to call attention to the Chinese government’s genocide in Xinjiang, brutal crackdowns on democracy activists in Hong Kong, and its numerous other abuses against journalists and dissidents. Merkley urged the Biden administration to declare a diplomatic boycott of the Games, which the White House announced earlier this month, and Merkley continues to speak out encouraging other democratic nations to join the international diplomatic boycott movement.