Fri, 18 Jun 2021

Washington [US], May 14 (ANI): The Biden administration is considering sanctions over China's use of forced labour in the production of solar panels, said United States Special Envoy on Climate, John Kerry.

During a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, lawmaker Michael McCaul asked Kerry about ensuring that the US' climate strategy wouldn't involve solar panels produced from forced labour.

Kerry acknowledged that importing solar panel from Xinjiang is a problem due to forced labour by Uyghurs in the region, Fox News reported.

"When you look at the supply chain when you look at China, they dominate the critical mineral supply and solar supply chains all coming out of Xinjiang Province," McCaul said.

Kerry told McCaul he was "absolutely correct" in his concerns. "It is a problem," he added.

"Xinjiang Province not only produces some of the solar panels that we believe are being in some cases produced in forced labour by Uyghur[s], but also there are significant amounts of a certain rare earth mineral that's used in the solar panels themselves."Much of the world's polysilicon, used in photovoltaic cells for solar panels, comes through China's Xinjiang province, where the Chinese government has been accused of committing genocide against Muslim minorities including Uyghurs.

Although Kerry didn't commit to precluding those panels, he indicated that the Biden administration was moving toward doing so with sanctions.

"It is my understanding that the Biden administration is right now in the process of assessing whether or not that would be the target of sanctions," he said.

"I've heard some discussion about it. I'm not privy to where that decision is at this point in time but I can tell you that nothing can be traded. And I've made that very clear, President Biden has made it very clear."China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.

Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community.

Early this year, the United States become the first country in the world to declare the Chinese actions in Xinjiang as "genocide". In February, both the Canadian and Dutch parliaments adopted motions recognising the Uyghur crisis as genocide. The latter became the first parliament in Europe to do so.

In April, the United Kingdom also declared China's ongoing crackdown in Xinjiang a "genocide". (ANI)

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