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U.S. bans solar panel material imports from Chinese company Over Forced Labor Issue

U.S. bans solar panel material imports from Chinese company Over Forced Labor Issue

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Biden officials on Wednesday ordered the closure of US imports of key supplies from China's Hoshine Silicon Industry due to Forced labor allegations, two sources said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has separately exported Hoshine, three other Chinese companies and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), say they are involved in the forced use of Uyghurs and other small Muslim groups in Xinjiang.

Three other companies have been added to the U.S. black economy list. They include Xinjiang Daqo New Energy, Daqo New Energy division; Metals of Xinjiang East Hope Nonferrous, a subsidiary of Shanghai's largest production company in East Hope Group; and Xinjiang GCL New Energy Material, which is part of GCL New Energy Holdings.
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The Department of Trade said the companies and the XPCC were "involved in human rights abuses in the implementation of China's crackdown, arbitrary arrests, forced labor and high technology against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other members of minority Islamist groups."

At least some of the companies listed by the Department of Commerce are major manufacturers of monocrystalline silicon and polysilicon used for solar panel production.

The companies or their parent firms did not immediately respond to requests for comment, or could not be reached immediately. XPCC was not immediately available for comment.

When asked to comment, the Chinese ambassador to Washington referred to remarks Tuesday by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian who dismissed allegations of killings and forced labor in Xinjiang "as rumors with ulterior motives and blatant lies."

The “Withhold Release Order” by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection only blocks import of goods from Hoshine. A source accustomed to ordering said it did not affect most US imports of polysilicon and other silica-based products.

A second source said the move did not conflict with President Joe Biden's climate targets and support for the domestic solar industry. Biden officials in March announced a plan to reduce solar energy costs by 60% over the next ten years. President Biden has set a goal of a 100% clean electricity grid by 2035.

Sources said the United States was continuing to investigate allegations of forced labor by Chinese companies supplying polysilicon.
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Xinjiang County accounts for about 45% of the world's supply of solar-grade polysilicon, which is the report of solar industry analysts.

Two sources familiar with the policy said the White House saw the actions as "natural continuation" of the G7 agreement earlier this month to eliminate forced labor workers in supply chains.
"We see these three actions as including that commitment," said one source. "We believe that these actions demonstrate a commitment to incur additional costs to the PRC by engaging in coercive and violent coercion."

The XPCC, a military organization sent to Xinjiang in the 1950's to build farms and settlements, is still active in the regional power and agriculture sectors, operating almost as a common state.

Foreign governments and human rights activists say they have played a role in the extermination and detention of Uyghurs in the region, which is holding some concentration camps. The U.S. Treasury Department Last year it sanctioned the XPCC for "violation of critical rights for young people."
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