UK firms face fines for Chinese trade linked to labor camps

LONDON — The U.K.’s Foreign Secretary vowed “to send a clear message” to China over labor violations in the Xinjiang region as he outlined plans to shield businesses from connection to human rights abuses.

Speaking in the House of Commons Tuesday, Dominic Raab announced four new measures from the U.K. government.

They include fresh guidance for U.K. businesses on the specific risks faced by companies with links to Xinjiang, a major hub for global supply chains; bolstering the operation of the U.K’s Modern Slavery Act with fines for firms that do not comply with its transparency obligations; incorporating that act into public sector procurement; and an urgent review of export controls on goods that could, directly or indirectly, contribute to human rights violations in Xinjiang. 

But Lisa Nandy, Shadow Foreign Secretary for the opposition Labour Party, said the move fell short. She cited media reports suggesting a suite of sanctions against officials responsible for the detention and forced labor of Uighur people in the region was forthcoming.

Responding, Raab said the latest measures amounted to “targeted sanctions” and pointed out that Canada, France, Germany and New Zealand are also considering their stance on the issue.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of the commons foreign affairs committee, said “dirty goods” were a problem but so was “dirty money.” And he urged the government to take action on any links to Chinese investment that could undermine freedom of speech in universities.



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