Canada and the UK have come up with several measures that aim to prevent goods made by forced labour in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region from entering the global supply chain and ensure that businesses in both countries are not complicit in forced labour in Xinjiang.
Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade announced Canada’s measures in a statement on Jan. 12.
“Canada is deeply concerned regarding the mass arbitrary detention and mistreatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities by Chinese authorities,” Champagne said.
“Nobody should face mistreatment on the basis of their religion or ethnicity. Together with the UK, we are taking action to ensure we are not complicit in the abuse of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.”
Curbing Forced Labour
Canada’s measures aim to address the situation of the Uyghur Muslim sect and other minorities in China and to prevent items produced through forced labour from entering Canadian and global supply chains. The seven measures are:
- The Prohibition of imports of goods produced wholly or in part by forced labour
- A Xinjiang Integrity Declaration for Canadian companies
- A Business Advisory on Xinjiang-related entities
- Enhanced advice to Canadian businesses
- Export controls
- Increase awareness for Responsible Business Conduct linked to Xinjiang
- Third-party analysis on forced labour and supply chain risks
To ensure that Canadians companies are not complicit in the violation of human rights, they must sign a Xinjiang Integrity Declaration and affirm that they are not sourcing from suppliers that directly or indirectly rely on forced labour in Xinjiang.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that Canadian businesses at home and abroad are not unknowingly involved in any supply chains involving forced labour,”Ng said.
The measures aim to prevent forced labour from any country from entering Canadian and global supply chains and to protect Canadian businesses from becoming unknowingly complicit.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also announced a package of measures to ensure its companies and organizations are not profiting from forced labour in Xinjiang.
The UK measures include a review of export controls to prevent exporting any goods that may contribute to human rights abuses in the region. It will also set up financial penalties for those who violate the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
“The evidence of the scale and severity of the human rights violations being perpetrated in Xinjiang against the Uyghur Muslims is now far reaching,” Raab said.
“This package will help make sure that no British organizations, government or private sector, deliberately or inadvertently, profit from or contribute to the human rights violations against the Uyghurs or other minorities in Xinjiang.”
The UK will also launch a minister-led campaign to engage with and provide guidelines to British businesses.
Largest Mass Detention Since Holocaust
Canada’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights estimates that roughly 2 million Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims are held in concentration camps in Xinjiang, making it the largest mass detention since the Holocaust.
Some rights advocates believe that the detainees are not only subjected to forced labour and other abuses, but possibly even illicit organ harvesting.
“Because of the massive concentration camp system for Uyghurs now, there’s a lot of Uyghurs being shipped out alive from Xinjiang, normally as for labour, but potentially as forced organ transplant sources,” David Matas, Canadian human rights lawyer and co-founder of International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China, told the Epoch Times in a previous interview.
“There’s a number of factors which indicate that the Uyghur volume is going up.”
According to two investigative reports co-authored by Matas, China’s human rights abuses and forced organ harvesting practices target various religious and ethnic minorities including house Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, and Tibetans, with Falun Gong prisoners of conscience being by far the most impacted group.
According to Global Affairs Canada, violations against Uyghurs include repressive surveillance, mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment, forced labour within Xinjiang region, and mass transfers of forced labourers from Xinjiang to provinces across China.