LONDON (REUTERS) – Britain will introduce new rules for companies to try to prevent goods from China’s Xinjiang region entering the supply chain, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Tuesday (Jan 12), toughening London’s response to allegations of forced labour.
Addressing Parliament, Mr Raab said there was far-reaching and “harrowing” evidence of forced labour among Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang after the United Nations estimated at least 1 million of them and other minorities were held in an internment camp.
Beijing denies the charges.
Mr Raab said Britain wanted to make sure it was free from any products that had links with Xinjiang, where he cited widespread reports of internment camps housing more than 1 million Uighurs, forced labour and the forced sterilisation of Uighur women.
“We must do more and we will,” he said.
“Xinjiang’s position in the international supply chain network means that there is a real risk of businesses and public bodies around the world, whether it’s inadvertently or otherwise, sourcing from suppliers which are complicit in the use of forced labour.”
To stop this, he said Britain would create more robust guidance for due diligence on sourcing, toughen the Modern Slavery Act to include fines, bar from government contracts any companies which do not comply with procurement rules and launch a Xinjiang-specific review of export controls.
“This package put together will help make sure that no British organisations – government or private sector – deliberately or inadvertently are profiting from, or contributing to, human rights violations against the Uighurs or other minorities in Xinjiang,” he said.