The State Department warned U.S. companies that doing business in the Chinese region of Xinjiang could harm more than just the companies' reputations in an attempt to crack down on forced labor and mistreatment of the minority Muslim Uighur population.
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"It is critical that U.S. companies and individuals be aware of the large-scale human rights abuses perpetrated by the [People's Republic of China] government in Xinjiang," State Department Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach wrote in a letter to business leaders on Monday.
The full letter below was first obtained by FOX Business and is being sent to major trade associations, CEOs and boards of companies like Walmart, Apple and Amazon, along with venture capital firms.
Trade groups Iike the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Motion Picture Association of America, PhRMA, National Association of Manufacturers and others are expected to distribute the message to their members.
Businesses with supply chains linked to the following behaviors "may be vulnerable to applicable U.S. enforcement actions or other legal actions," Krach wrote in the letter:
- Helping the Chinese government develop surveillance tools to use in Xinjiang
- Relying on goods or labor sourced in Xinjiang or Chinese companies that may use forced labor in their supply chains
- Helping construct internment facilities used for detaining Uighurs or other minority groups
- Financing, directly or indirectly, any entities involved in the previous three activities
On Wednesday, the departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security warned all U.S. businesses, individuals, academic institutions, service providers and investors that those who conduct business with Chinese suppliers or any entity that relies on the forced labor of Uighurs will face "reputational, economic, and legal risks associated with certain types of involvement with entities that engage in human rights abuses."
Also on Wednesday, Fox News learned that the federal seized a huge shipment of products in New Jersey that officials suspect were made with human hair as part of an effort to crack down on forced labor in China.
A recent Associated Press story detailed the Chinese government's efforts to reduce the birth rate of the Uighurs, a minority Muslim population.
While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide."
The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.