UHRP Submission to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade
Written Statement for the Record
Louisa Greve, Director of Global Advocacy, Uyghur Human Rights Project
Submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Trade
April 18, 2023
To the Members of the Committee:
I write in strong support of H.J. Res 39. This bipartisan bill would repeal the Biden Administration’s Solar Emergency Declaration, a harmful rule issued in June 2022 that protects Chinese solar manufacturers that the Department of Commerce has determined are illegally avoiding U.S. tariffs.
As you know, both the President Biden and President Trump administrations have determined that the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, including state-imposed forced labor, mass forced sterilization, and mass enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) found in its authoritative August 31, 2022 report (the “Bachelet Report”) that the PRC is responsible for “serious human rights violations” that “may constitute crimes against humanity.”
In response to the Uyghur human-rights crisis, the U.S. government has taken action to ban products made with forced labor from China, including solar equipment, among 100+ human-rights sanctions including export bans, investment bans, visa bans, and Global Magnitsky targeted human rights OFAC SDN designations. Under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which came into force on June 21, 2022, no products are exempt from the “rebuttable presumption” that all products mined, grown, or manufactured in the Uyghur Region are banned under Section 307 of the U.S. Tariff Act. The law is applicable regardless of the needs of particular industries or the scarcity of alternative supplies.
No economic or environmental imperative can justify profits from the genocidal state-imposed forced labor of Uyghurs.
The reality is that the Chinese polysilicon and solar-component industries are highly dependent on mining and manufacturing in the Uyghur homeland, using central government subsidies and incentives, and under the auspices of the government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
In our view, it is clear that an increase in solar imports from Chinese solar manufacturers — regardless of whether these imports are from China or Chinese controlled factories in Southeast Asia—directly supports the Chinese solar industry’s use of Uyghur forced labor. According to government data, imports of solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam have risen 69% since 2019.
It is unconscionable to believe that the U.S. should build a clean-energy future that relies on products made under the combination of dirty coal plants and China’s genocidal forced-labor inputs. As the AFL-CIO pointed out in a major statement in October 2021, the “solar industry, and its entire value chain, should exemplify how the United States meets the climate, equity and economic challenges of the 21st century.” It’s a false choice to think we can achieve climate goals by abandoning our core values.
As H.J. Res 39 comes before the Ways and Means Committee, we urge you to support this bipartisan, common-sense measure. It is indefensible to allow Chinese solar manufacturers that profit from Uyghur forced labor to be exempted from compliance with U.S. trade law.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) promotes the rights of the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim peoples in East Turkistan, referred to by the Chinese government as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, through research-based advocacy. UHRP was founded in 2003 as a project of the Uyghur American Association and became an independent nonprofit organization in 2016.