London (CNN Business)The British government will fine companies which hide connections to China’s Xinjiang region where Uyghurs and other minorities are allegedly subject to forced labor, under a raft of new measures.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday announced the new measures, which the Foreign Office says are designed to ensure that all British organizations “are not complicit in, nor profiting from, the human rights violations in Xinjiang.”
The UK government will also review which British products can be exported to Xinjiang, and issue new guidance “setting out the specific risks faced by companies with links to Xinjiang … underlining the challenges of effective due diligence there.”
The US State Department estimates that up to two million Uyghurs, as well as members of other Muslim minority groups, have been detained in a sprawling network of internment camps in Xinjiang.
Beijing has long defended the crackdown in Xinjiang as necessary to tackle extremism and terrorism, and has claimed that its facilities are voluntary “training centers” where people learn vocational skills, Chinese language and laws.
“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 told members of parliament. He said the new measures are meant to “send a clear message that these violations of human rights are unacceptable, and to safeguard UK businesses and public bodies from any involvement or linkage with them.”
Raab is also calling for the United Nations to have access to the Xinjiang region to verify allegations of forced labor and other human rights violations.
Washington has taken its own steps to curtail imports from Xinjiang. Last month, the Trump administration announced that it would block imports of cotton from there — the latest restriction related to the region.
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