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Assessing potential economic policy responses to genocide in Xinjiang

Cullen S. Hendrix (PIIE) and Marcus Noland (PIIE)

Policy Briefs 21-14


China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is the locus of one of the largest campaigns of government-inflicted human rights abuses in the world. It is also a pivotal source of products, including cotton and refined silica, that feed into global supply chains. This situation presents the United States and other countries with the difficult task of addressing abuses in a country and region that is central to the global economy. Hendrix and Noland outline a variety of economic and diplomatic policies that might be brought to bear in order to both ameliorate conditions in Xinjiang and ensure that global consumers are not accomplices to these abuses by buying products produced with forced labor. Options include a program of presumptive restrictions on imports from Xinjiang; mandatory due diligence laws; individually targeted sanctions against perpetrators and sanctions against firms aiding and abetting the abuses through the production of surveillance technology; and more symbolic acts, such as naming and shaming in the United Nations and boycotting the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

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