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The U.S. is poised to bar some solar products made in China’s Xinjiang region, according to several people familiar with the matter, marking one of the Biden administration’s biggest steps yet to counter alleged human rights abuses against the country’s ethnic Uyghur Muslim minority.
Xinjiang — where advocacy groups and a panel of United Nations experts say Uyghurs and other minorities have been subjected to mass arbitrary detention and forced to work against their will — produces roughly half of the global supply of polysilicon, a material critical for solar panels and semiconductors. China has denied the allegations, saying they’re an attempt to undermine successful businesses.
The move targeting Chinese manufacturer Hoshine Silicon Industry (Shanshan) Co., Ltd., which is expected to be announced Thursday, has implications for solar’s supply chain and could force U.S. companies to find material elsewhere. It comes after both the Trump and Biden administrations accused China of “genocide” in a campaign to erase the culture of the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs.
A White House spokeswoman had no immediate comment. Details of the plans were described by people who asked not to be identified prior to the announcement.
The U.S. is trying to cripple the industrial development of Xinjiang and seeks to force poverty and unemployment on the region, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday at a regular press briefing in Beijing. “China strongly condemns the sanctions that the U.S. imposes on Chinese companies based on lies and disinformation,” he said. “China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”
Under the “withhold and release order” the Customs and Border Protection is expected to announce Thursday, imports from Hoshine would be blocked from entry at U.S. ports and only released if they can prove the goods are not made with forced labor.
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