Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act and the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act

September 22, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 6210, the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act and H.R. 6270, the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.  I thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding, Mr. Castro.  Thank you so much, Chairman Castro, for bringing this important legislation to the Floor and giving us a chance to honor our values in a most bipartisan way.  One of the sadnesses of all of this is how many people are suffering.  One of the joys is it has enabled us to work together over the years.  How many years, Mr. Smith?  At least thirty, working together on this subject.  

I rise in support of the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act and the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act, two strong, bipartisan bills to send a strong message to Beijing and the world that the U.S. Congress will not hold human rights – allow human rights to be sacrificed for commercial interests.  As I have said many times, if America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out about human rights anywhere in the world.  

I salute Chairman Jim McGovern, Chair of the Congressional Executive Commission on China and Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a leading voice in the country and in the Congress for human rights.  And I thank you, thank Jennifer – Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, one of our new Freshmen for her early leadership and dedication she has brought to this priority.  Thank you, too, Mr. Smith, again.  I acknowledged our working together over the years as you now are the Ranking Member of the [Congressional Executive] Commission on China and Co-Chair of the Lantos Commission.  I salute our Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Engel and our leads in the Senate, Senator Rubio and Senator Merkley.  I thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity.  And so many of our Members who have spoken on this issue.

Beijing's barbarous actions targeting the Uyghur people continue to be an outrage to the collective conscience of the world.  Across the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the Uyghur and other Muslim [minorities] are brutally repressed this way, in this way.  A pervasive state of mass surveillance and predictive policing used to discriminate against and violate the human rights of minorities.  Incidents of mass shootings, extrajudicial killings and the intimidation and suppression of journalists courageously exposing the truth.  And the mass incarceration of more than – and this is a lower figure, I think it's higher, but a conservative figure – one million innocent people with beatings, solidarity confinement, deprivation of food and medical treatment and with extensively documented programs of forced labor. 

So, if you are out there watching the Congress, know what this means to you.  The exploitation of people in China has a direct impact, a direct impact on our trade policy and on our values first and foremost.  Tragically, the products of the forced labor often end up here in American stores and homes.  In fact, roughly one in five cotton garments sold globally, one in five cotton garments sold globally contains cotton or yarn from the Xinjiang region, the Uyghur region.  We must shine a light on the inhumane practice of forced labor, hold the perpetrators accountable and stop this exploitation.  And we must send a clear message to Beijing: these abuses must end now.  

I remember years ago, Mr. Smith, when you and Frank Wolf visited forced labor, I don’t know if we’d call them prisons, whatever, in China at the time.  Your courage to go there was so overwhelming to the rest of us.  You were able to document what we needed to know.  Unfortunately, the challenge to the conscience that you brought to us was not heeded by all here.  We could have overwhelmingly win in the House and Senate, but not be able to override a veto, whether it was a Democrat or Republican in the White House.  But I remember how brave you were and how brave those prisoners were to show you the evidence of the forced labor, so that we could make the case to workers in America.  You have been subjected to the exploitation of workers there.  That's an exploitation of workers here. 

Again, we were proud in May to pass the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which uncovers the truth of China’s abuses, ensures that those supporting labor camps and urges the application of targeted sanctions against those involved in the oppression of the Uyghur people.  Today, we build on that overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation with these two bills, which together will ensure that goods made in Xinjiang region imported to the United States are not made with forced labor, are not made with forced labor. 

The Congress must and will continue to speak out against Beijing's other human rights abuses.  For the decades-long abuse faced by the Tibetan people – the Chinese are there to crush their culture, eliminate their language and suppress their religion.  And their assault on the honor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, by saying they will choose his successor, goes beyond the pale.  It is a challenge to the conscience of the world.  And to Hong Kong’s fight for democracy and rule of law, which they oppress, and to the jailing of journalists, human rights lawyers, Christians and democracy advocates on the mainland. 

That is why the House is proud to have passed legislation including the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, and the Tibet Policy and Support Act, which we urge the Senate to take up immediately.  All of this in an overwhelmingly bipartisan way, because we respect the dignity and worth of every person.  But because we’ve always said we cannot look the other way when the suppression of millions of people is taking place and we are acting upon those values and those beliefs that we have. 

In honor of the millions fighting for their dignity, safety and rights in China and around the world, I urge a strong bipartisan vote for the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act and the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act. 

I thank you again, all of you who have – Mr. McCaul you as well, Ranking Member on the Committee of Jurisdiction – and yield back the balance of my time.