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Democrat senator blocks bill banning goods made with slave labor in China

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (Oregonian/OregonLive file photos/TNS)
December 17, 2021

On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) blocked bipartisan legislation that would ban goods from China’s Xinjiang region where the Chinese Communist Party is committing genocide against Uyghur minorities and producing merchandise using slave labor.

Wyden obstructed the bill after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) refused his request to include an unrelated child tax credit provision, Bloomberg reported. The bill was widely supported on both sides of the political aisle and was likely to pass quickly before Wyden’s objection.

Nike, which has nearly 150 factories in China according to the BBC, pushed for Congress to weaken the bill. The massive sportswear company is the top financial contributor to Wyden.  

“I am completely sympathetic to my colleague from Florida, my colleague from Oregon, to the fight against genocide and forced labor,” Wyden claimed. “They got me at hello on their proposition. I also feel incredibly strongly, incredibly strongly about our vulnerable children and our vulnerable families that are going to be cut off from an essential lifeline unless the United States Senate acts.”

The Chinese Communist Party’s egregious human rights abuses of minorities in Xinjiang led President Joe Biden’s administration to announce a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this month. “The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games.”

“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these Games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang. And we simply can’t do that,” she added. “As the President has told President Xi, standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights. And we feel strongly in our position, and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond.”

Earlier this year, Uyghur exiles described the human rights violations being committed against them by the Chinese Communist Party, including forced abortions, killings, torture, rape, enslavement, forced separation of children from their parents, forced sterilization, labor, enforced disappearances, destruction of cultural and religious heritage, persecution, forced marriages, and the imposition of Han Chinese men into Uyghur households.