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Jan 26, 2024 | In The News

Augusta Free Press

No Funds for Forced Labor Act is bipartisan legislation that seeks to prevent international financial institutions (IFIs) from supporting projects that pose significant risk of using forced labor.

American officials would be empowered to oppose IFI loans, which in part rely on U.S. taxpayer dollars, to any projects that use forced labor or those that are carried out with state support in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where overwhelming evidence of a forced labor scheme of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities exist.

U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia led introduction of the bill today with U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin(R-WI), Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, Gregory Meeks of New York, who is Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Young Kim of California, Zachary Nunn of Iowa, John Rose of Tennessee and Brad Sherman of California.

“American taxpayer dollars should never be used to prop up companies that are exploiting forced labor,” Wexton said. “While Congress has taken major bipartisan action to prevent products made with the forced labor of Uyghurs from reaching the U.S., more can and must be done to prevent U.S. resources from enabling the Chinese government’s brutal forced labor regime. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan bill to better crack down on international financing institutions’ support for CCP companies complicit in Uyghur forced labor and forced labor across the globe.”

Gallagher, Chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, said the bill will ensure “that Americans in global business can stand up to the Chinese Communist Party’s worst human rights abuses. Once passed, this bill will require American executives at international banks to use their authority – through voice, vote and influence of the United States – to oppose all loans to projects that carry any risk of CCP forced labor or any connection to the CCP’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang.”

“In our report on the Uyghur genocide, the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recommended that Congress should restrict U.S. capital flows to problematic People’s Republic of China (PRC) companies that have enabled the CCP’s atrocities. I’m proud to support this bill, which does just that by closing loopholes in U.S. international financial institutions that have allowed funding to go to projects that perpetuate state-sponsored forced labor activities against Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups in the PRC. Furthermore, by requiring international financial institutions to vet all projects for forced labor, we are sending a strong message that the United States opposes forced labor activities by the CCP and all other authoritarian governments,” Krishnamoorthi, Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, said.

A 2022 report released by the Atlantic Council found that the International Financial Corporation (IFC), the private lending body of the World Bank, has provided at least $486 million in financing to companies in Xinjiang as part of the organization’s work to uplift the private sector in developing countries. The IFC and other international financial institutions receive funding from governments around the world, including U.S. taxpayer dollars. Through IFI investments, American taxpayer dollars are benefitting companies who are complicit in the Chinese government’s brutal forced labor of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.

Wexton is a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and representative to one of the largest Uyghur diaspora populations in the world. Last year, she introduced the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act, which would require all publicly traded companies to disclose any links between their products and forced labor in Xinjiang, and the Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act to designate Uyghurs as priority refugees and expedite their ability to apply for asylum in the U.S.

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