Washington has banned the import of some solar products manufactured using forced labor in Xinjiang, and the Chinese government has been accused of genocide Uyghurs.
According to people familiar with the ban, the Biden government has banned the import of solar products produced by Xinjiang Hesheng Silicon Industry.
People familiar with the matter added that it also added five other companies that make polysilicon, a raw material used in the solar industry, to the Department of Commerce’s “entity list,” which requires US companies to obtain government permission before doing business with them.
The ban is the latest attempt by the Biden government to pressure the Chinese government over the detention of more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in northwestern China. Xinjiang.
Earlier this year, the United States worked with the European Union, Canada, and the United Kingdom to impose sanctions on Chinese officials on the Xinjiang issue.
US international climate negotiator John Kerry told Congress last month that the US is considering more sanctions, but did not make it clear whether this would involve a ban on solar imports or new measures against Beijing officials.
The Trump administration imposed a similar ban on imports of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang last year. From clothing retailers to solar panel manufacturers, companies are facing increasing pressure to ensure that forced labor is not used in their supply chains.
Congress is also considering legislation to require companies to ensure that their supply chains do not rely on forced labor in Xinjiang.
Chinese officials and researchers described the allegations of forced labor as a strategy by the United States to undermine the international competitiveness of the country’s solar energy industry.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently regarded those accusing forced labor in the solar supply chain as “black hands” with an anti-China agenda. “Their purpose is to fabricate lies about forced labor to force unemployment and delink from Xinjiang,” it said.
An article published last month by the Beijing-based China Going Global Think Tank argued that the United States is trying to “suppress China’s photovoltaic industry, promote the development of local industries, and effectively win a global leadership position.”
In an interview with the Financial Times before the finalization of the solar energy ban, John Smirno, a senior manager of the Solar Energy Industry Association, said that his team “has been sounding the alarm since last year” because of concerns that Washington will crack down on imports.
Smirno said that until a year ago, the US solar company’s exposure to Xinjiang was “quite large”, but the company had drastically reduced the proportion of such products in its supply chain.
He said the company realized it was difficult to persuade customs to allow the import of solar energy from Xinjiang.
“At present, since it is impossible to conduct independent third-party audits of forced labor in Xinjiang, it is almost impossible to convince customs if you have panels or products from this region.”