U.S. House passes China forced labor bill near unanimously

Elias Hubbard
September 24, 2020

A new study published on Tuesday by the Jamestown Foundation details how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) forced over 500,000 Tibetans into military-style camps created to train "rural surplus laborers" into industrial workers in the first half of this year. After completing their so-called "vocational training", which includes political indoctrination, the Tibetans were transferred to work in factories across China, according to government quotas. Estimates by the US government suggest China has imprisoned as many as three million people in over 1,000 Xinjiang concentration camps in the past three years.

If enacted into law, it could force companies to avoid a region that products 80% of the cotton in China, one of the world's top producers of the fiber, as well as tomatoes and manufactured goods. Lawmakers said this was an attempt to stop systemic forced labor from the Uighur community.

"China expresses strong indignation and firm opposition, and had already made stern representations to the U.S.", said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a regular press briefing.

The Tibetan program is expanding as global pressure is growing over similar projects in Xinjiang, some of which have been linked to mass detention centres.

In August, President Xi Jinping said China will again step up efforts against separatism in Tibet, where ethnic Tibetans make up around 90% of the population, according to census data. "We hope the worldwide community will distinguish right from wrong, respect facts, and not be fooled by lies", it said.

Both Tibet and Xinjiang have long endured intense social, security and religious controls, as China seeks to suppress what is says are terrorist and separatist elements.

Last month, the U.S. State Department reportedly was considering labeling the actions of the Chinese government with respect to the Uighurs a "genocide". The Xinjiang government, where Chen remains Party boss, did not respond to a request for comment.

The research, carried out by the Jamestown Foundation, has suggested that farmers and herders have been targeted and taken into labour programmes similar to those used against ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused Zenz earlier this month "of making a living from fabricating rumors about Xinjiang and slandering China".

"Tibetans are to be transformed from '[being] unwilling to move" to becoming willing to participate, a process that requires "diluting the negative influence of religion, ' Zenz said". "This is aided by a worrisome new scheme that "encourages" Tibetans to hand over their land and herds to government-run cooperatives, turning them into wage laborers".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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