The State of Arizona and all public entities within the state will be prohibited from contracting with any company which does not provide a written certification that the company does not, and will not, use or rely on the forced labor of ethnic Uyghurs in China.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2488 on Monday to help combat the forced labor practices of the People’s Republic of China.
Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. The people, the majority of whom are Muslims, are recognized as native to the Xinjiang region in northwest China, but for the past several years the Chinese government has come under criticism for placing tens of thousands of Uyghers at a time into detention or “reeducation” camps.
A Congressional report published earlier this year states that the Chinese government has compelled as many of 1 million of the 12 million Uyghurs in the region to work in textile, apparel, agricultural, consumer electronics, and other labor-intensive industries. Refusal to comply with such government orders can result in surveillance, political indoctrination, even further restrictive detention.
According to a recent BBC report, the Uyghurs speak their own language which is similar to Turkish. They make up less than half of the Xinjiang population, and have been the target in recent years of mass migration by Han Chinese, the nation’s ethnic majority. The intent appears to be an orchestrated effort by the government to further dilute the minority population there.
A proposed bill, HB2488, would prevent Arizona or any public utilities from entering into contracts with companies unless the contracts stipulate that they don’t and won’t rely on forced labor of the Uyghurs within China. The Uyghurs are a Muslim ethnic group that the Chinese government has detained in “reeducation camps” since 2017.
State Representative Justin Wilmeth (R-Phoenix) introduced the bill, pulling in nine cosponsors with him: Majority Whip Leo Biasiucci (R-Lake Havasu City) and Assistant Minority Leader Jennifer Longdon (D-Phoenix), along with State Representatives Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), Frank Carroll (R-Sun City West), Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Steve Kaiser (R-Phoenix), Teresa Martinez (R-Casa Grande), Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott), and Amish Shah (D-Phoenix).
If passed, states and any of its political subdivisions or agencies, boards, commissions, or departments would be limited from engaging in contracts without confirmation that labor hasn’t and won’t be derived from the imprisoned Uyghurs. The bill extends to organizations, associations, corporations, partnerships, joint ventures, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, limited liability companies or other entities or business associations including a wholly-owned subsidiary, majority-owned subsidiary, parent company, or affiliate that engages in for-profit activity and that has 10 or more full-time employees.
“A public entity may not enter into a contract with a company to acquire or dispose of services, supplies, information technology, goods or construction unless the contract includes a written certification that the company does not currently, and agrees for the duration of the contract that it will not, use: 1) The forced labor of ethnic Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China. 2) Any goods or services produced by the forced labor of ethnic Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China. 3) Any contractors, subcontractors, or suppliers that use the forced labor or any goods or services produced by the forced labor of ethnic Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China.”
In a press release, Wilmeth alluded that the Uyghurs’ treatment is paramount to the 20th century detainments of the Jewish and Japanese peoples.
“As a student of history, I know what happens when good people remain silent,” stated Wilmeth. “The Chinese Communist Party keeping millions of people locked in internment camps, which harkens back to the darkest chapters of the 20th century. HB 2488 sends a strong message that the State of Arizona won’t do business with anyone that turns a blind eye to this horrible human rights abuse.”
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report earlier this month on the Uyghurs explaining that the minority group is subject to forced labor within the textile, apparel, agricultural, consumer electronics, and other industries under threat of detention. Additionally, Uyghurs suffer forced assimilation efforts by outlawing their traditional dress and appearance, customs, and dietary laws; demolishing or shutting down mosques; reducing birth rates through forced sterilization and birth control; requiring their children attend state-run boarding schools; forcing them to renounce their beliefs; and installing Chinese spies and law enforcement within their homes and communities to monitor their compliance. The research reported that former detainees described poor detainment conditions: factory labor, crowded and unsanitary conditions, food deprivation, psychological coercion, sexual abuse, medical neglect, and even torture that sometimes led to death.