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CEO DATELINE – Solar industry group urges Xinjiang pullout

Oct. 23, 2020
By William Ehart

The Solar Energy Industries Association is calling on companies to get out of the Chinese region of Xinjiang because of reported human rights abuses, Bloomberg reports.

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The U.S. State Department and other federal agencies issued an advisory warning in July of forced labor among the Uighur Muslim minorities in the northwestern region, which produces polysilicon used in solar panels and other products. Congress also is considering legislation banning goods from Xinjiang unless it is proved they have not been produced by slave labor, S&P Global Market Intelligence reports.

“We will not tolerate industry suppliers being involved in these types of abuses,” SEIA Vice President and General Counsel John Smirnow said in a statement Oct. 22. “We want to be crystal clear: Human-rights abuses are abhorrent.”

Analysts estimate that polysilicon producers in Xinjiang make about 65% of China’s supply. China accounts for 80% of the world’s supply of polysilicon.

SEIA is working on measures to determine either that solar imports don’t include Xinjiang-made products or, if produced there, are free of forced labor, Smirnow said.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it opposed “politicizing economic cooperation.”

“If these companies do not want to operate in China in Xinjiang, then it’s their loss,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a daily briefing in Beijing.

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