The federal Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act went into effect last month, leading to complaints from many companies subject to the law claiming that compliance is either unnecessarily expensive or impossible. The law is designed to require companies importing consumer goods into the U.S. to show products coming from East Turkistan inside China were not produced using slave labor.
Breitbart News reported this week that forensic testing experts, Customs and Border Patrol officials, and human rights advocacy organizations have shown that the burden of compliance through knowing the sources across a supply chain is not unreasonable.
The testing technology needed is widely accessible and is believed to reliably determine if products come from East Turkistan, which would be an indication that slave labor was very likely involved in their production.
Intelligence reliably indicates that China is engaged in a methodical genocide of Uyghur ethnic minorities and other groups in the area it describes as its Xinjiang province. That area has historically been known as East Turkistan.
Millions of persons are confined to concentration camps where they are tortured and indoctrinated. Women are regularly sterilized and large parts of the population are forced to work in producing goods for China.
The new federal law was signed by Joe Biden last December and creates a presumption that all products coming from East Turkistan were made using slave labor. Any firm that wants to import goods sourcing from that region must prove to customs agents that no slave labor was used in the supply chain that created the goods.
Before the law was passed by Congress, a 2020 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that at least 83 international corporations, including Apple and Nike, imported products that were made in part using Chinese slave labor.
Many of the corporations affected by the law and their trade organizations have objected, claiming that they do not have the resources to verify their products do not benefit from forced labor.
Some import companies have decided not to use any Chinese cotton in their products at all in order to comply with the law. Retail firm Reformation’s chief sustainability officer Kathleen Talbot told reporters last year that the only real way to be certain that Xinjiang cotton has not been used is to avoid buying any Chinese cotton at all.
DNA testing of raw materials such as cotton has become much more important with the passage of the new law, and demand for those services has skyrocketed. Oritain CEO Grant Cochrane said that his company does the testing and works now with a “wide range of brands.” He said, “If people want to know they can know.”