Rubio, Scott roll out latest attempt to limit American involvement in Xinjiang

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


On Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) continued his now multi-year effort to alter American business practice in China, teaming with fellow Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott to introduce a bill that would force publicly traded companies to disclose if parts of their supply chain touch the communist country’s forced labor camps.

Rubio and Scott, along with cosponsors Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), have deemed their new bill the TASK Act, short for Transaction and Sourcing Knowledge.

According to a release from Rubio’s office, the bill would require companies to “report on any aspect of their supply chain directly linked to products using forced labor from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as well as any transactions with certain companies that pose national security risks.”

As covered extensively on FISM, Xinjiang has become synonymous with widespread human rights abuses as the Chinese Communist Party is accused of using forced labor and sterilization, among other tactics, to erase its Uyghur population.  

The U.S. has previously blacklisted multiple Chinese companies for their connections to Xinjiang, but numerous well-known Western companies – among them Tesla, Disney, and H&M – have been found to have connections to the region.

Companies in the United States have been forbidden from importing goods made in whole or in part by slave labor since the early 1900s, and late last year a separate bill coauthored by Rubio made it illegal for companies to import from Xinjiang without proving no portion of the production process involved slave labor.

The newest law, Rubio said, will add an element of accountability to companies.

“Far too many American corporations profit from slave labor in China,” Rubio said. “It is already illegal for these companies to import goods made with slave labor into the United States, and in two months, they will be prohibited from importing any goods from Xinjiang unless they can prove there is no slave labor. These companies must be transparent with their shareholders by disclosing the risks associated with products linked to Xinjiang and with companies complicit in genocide and the use of slave labor.”

The TASK Act is one of several pieces of Xinjiang-related legislation Rubio has pushed since 2021.

Beyond coauthoring the new anti-slave-labor law, in February Rubio announced a bill that would expand the definition of corrupt intent under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Specifically, this bill would deem a U.S. company that defends or excuses China’s actions in Xinjiang, or that supports Chinese territorial claims (primarily Taiwan), to have behaved with corrupt intent.

“Name a major American company operating in China — Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Intel — and chances are that company has at some point carried water for the genocidal regime,” Rubio said at the time. “Those actions are more valuable to the Chinese Communist Party than any monetary bribe. It is time to do something about this.”

Rubio’s actions come at a time when the international community is taking greater notice of Xinjiang. The United Nations is sending a five-person inspection team, one including High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to the region, a process that will take some time as the team members must first serve an extensive quarantine.

As reported by Politico, though, few expect anything of substance to come of this visit. One European diplomat told the news outlet, “What’s the point of visiting if [Bachelet is] only going to be shown around the mosques to watch happily dancing Uyghurs?”