Emerging Lines In The Fight To End Uyghur Forced Labor

Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Olivia Enos, writes for Forbes highlighting research from VOC’s Dr. Adrian ZenzSenior Fellow and Director in China Studies, on the fight to end Uyghur forced labor.

As the article discusses, “the seafood industry is big business, constituting approximately $140 billion in trade annually. According to testimony from Sally Yozell, Senior Fellow and Director of the Environmental Security program at Stimson Center, in 2022 alone, the U.S. imported over $30 billion in seafood. And Yozell reports that just under 40 percent of U.S. imports of seafood, despite originating in the U.S., are processed in China. Urbina’s report puts a finer point on it, saying that over the past five years, the U.S. has imported more than $200 million in seafood from entities whose production line is likely tainted by Uyghur forced labor.

Urbina’s investigation was extensive. Video evidence, Chinese government documents, and investigative visits to seafood industry factories uncovered the true nature of Uyghurs forced to labor in the seafood sector. The investigations revealed the coercive nature of the labor transfer programs, meager wages, limited-to-no freedom of movement, lengthy work hours, and squalid conditions.

To make matters worse, Uyghurs who refuse labor transfers (not specific only to the seafood industry) are often sent to detention facilities or the political reeducation camps known to house between 1 million and 2 million Uyghurs. A new report by Adrian Zenz, Senior Fellow and Director of China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, meticulously documents these revelations.

Zenz notes that, ‘The evidence consists of a combination of new internal state documents and witness accounts and provides the first conclusive evidence that Uyghurs who refused state work assignments were placed into re-education camps. This shows the pervasive coercive force of state-imposed forced labor in the region, which is affecting many more supply chains than we knew.’

Awareness about Uyghur forced labor is relatively high. So high, in fact, that the U.S. Congress passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) signed into law in December 2021 and implemented in June 2022. The UFLPA created a rebuttable presumption stating that all goods produced ‘wholly or in part’ with Uyghur forced labor are barred from entering U.S. markets. The law put the burden on business to prove a negative – that goods they import from China are not tainted by Uyghur forced labor.”

Read the full article from Forbes here.

Dr. Adrian Zenz is the Senior Fellow and Director in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.