US bans imports of solar panel material from Chinese company over Xinjiang forced labour allegations
- US Commerce Department on Wednesday ordered a ban on US imports of a key solar panel material from Chinese-based Hoshine Silicon Industry over forced labour allegations
- It also restricted exports to Hoshine, three other Chinese companies and the paramilitary Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), saying they were involved with the forced labour of Uygurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang
The Biden administration on Wednesday ordered a ban on US imports of a key solar panel material from Chinese-based Hoshine Silicon Industry over forced labour allegations, said two sources briefed on the matter.
The US Commerce Department said the companies and XPCC “have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labour and high-technology surveillance against Uygurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in” Xinjiang.
At least some of the companies listed by the US Commerce Department are major manufacturers of monocrystalline silicon and polysilicon that are used in solar panel production.
The companies or their parent firms did not immediately respond to requests for comment, or could not immediately be reached. XPCC could not immediately be reached for comment.
When asked for comment, China’s embassy in Washington referred to remarks on Tuesday by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian who dismissed accusations of genocide and forced labour in Xinjiang as “nothing but rumours with ulterior motives and downright lies.”
The Biden administration in March announced a target to cut the cost of solar energy by 60 per cent within the next 10 years. President Biden has set a goal of a 100 per cent clean electricity grid by 2035.
The sources said the US is continuing to investigate allegations of forced labour by Chinese companies who supply polysilicon.
The Xinjiang region accounts for around 45 per cent of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon supply, a report by solar industry analysts found.
The two sources familiar with the policy said the White House sees the actions as a “natural continuation” of the Group of 7 agreement earlier this month to eliminate forced labour from supply chains.
“We view these three actions as putting that commitment into action,” one of the sources said. “We believe these actions demonstrate a commitment to imposing additional costs on [China] for engaging in cruel and inhumane forced labour practices.”
Foreign governments and human rights activists say it has been a force in the crackdown and surveillance of Uygurs in the region, running some detention camps.
The US Treasury Department last year sanctioned XPCC for “serious rights abuses against ethnic minorities.”