By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) - The US Senate passed a bill Thursday that bans goods from China’s Muslim majority Xinjiang region produced with forced labor.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act unanimously cleared the upper chamber of Congress. It cleared the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The main sponsor of the bill, Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from the state of Florida, hailed the passage on Twitter.
"We had to fight against the lobbying of big corporations, opposition from the Biden White House & threats made by Communist China. I even had to hold up the Defense bill.
"But we finally passed the #UyghurForcedLaborPreventionAct," said Rubio.
It now goes to President Joe Biden's desk for signature.
The bill seeks to ensure that goods made with forced labor from Uyghurs and others in the Xinjiang region do not enter the US market. It also requires companies to prove that they do not import goods from Xinjiang that come from forced labor.
In Xinjiang, ethnic Uyghur Muslims have been subjected to years of abuse because of their identity and culture.
According to UN data, at least 1 million Uyghurs are kept against their will in places Beijing calls “vocational training centers” but which critics call places for indoctrination, abuse and torture.
Several countries have accused China of committing genocide against Uyghurs. Beijing has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations as “lies and (a) political virus.”