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Human rights allegations in Xinjiang could jeopardize solar supply chain

Human rights allegations in Xinjiang could jeopardize solar supply chain


An ethnic Uighur woman arranges raisins at a stall with a billboard showing the late Communist Party leader Mao Zedong. The U.S. government says Beijing is committing human rights abuses against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the China’s autonomous Xinjiang region.

The solar industry’s growing dependence on China’s autonomous Xinjiang region for a critical raw material poses mounting risks to a wide range of companies as the U.S. government moves to confront Beijing over alleged human rights abuses there.

In 2019, when solar ranked as the world’s top source of new power generating capacity, about one-third of the polysilicon the industry used to make solar panels came from Xinjiang, according to Johannes Bernreuter of Bernreuter Research. China as a whole accounts for about 80% of global capacity. With polysilicon-makers boosting production in Xinjiang, Richard Winegarner, a former industry analyst who retired in late 2019, said the region is poised to become “even more important” to the solar market in the coming years.

Those deepening ties come as Washington’s scrutiny of labor conditions in the region intensifies. On the heels of a U.S. government report that described rampant abuse of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in September that would ban goods made “wholly or in part” in the region unless the producers were proven not to have used forced labor. The near-unanimous vote came a week after U.S. Customs and Border Protection ordered officers to seize certain imports from Xinjiang, including cotton and computer parts.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican member of the Committee on Foreign Relations who introduced a companion bill to the House legislation, said in September that the U.S. “must ensure that goods stained with forced labor stop entering our supply chains.” Rubio’s bill, which has 19 co-sponsors, including six Democrats, was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations in March.

A spokesperson for Joe Biden said in August that the Democrat presidential nominee believed that the Chinese government is committing “genocide” against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Beijing denies it is committing human rights abuses.Read More.

Source : spglobal
Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network