The European Union announced Wednesday a plan to crack down on products made with forced labor, a move analysts said is aimed at the Chinese province of Xinjiang and its work camps of ethnic Uyghurs.
The EU categorizes forced labor as a kind of modern-day slavery in which a person is coerced into working by violence, having their identification papers held hostage or under threat of deportation.
“Our aim is to eliminate all products made with forced labor from the EU market, irrespective of where they have been made. Our ban will apply to domestic products, exports and imports alike,” European Commission Executive Vice President Vladis Dombrovskis said in a statement.
Under the law, if a product is made with forced labor the company responsible will be forced to halt production or face heavy penalties.
The plan is to closely monitor industries that have a history of using forced labor, including textiles and mining, and to focus more on large producers and distributors rather than small businesses.
The international Labour Organization estimates that over 27 million men, women and children are forced to work each day.
If the law is accepted by the other EU member countries it would enter into effect two years after an agreement is met.
The European proposal does not mention China, but activists have been pressing the EU to address human rights violations by Beijing after the U.S. banned goods from Xinjiang last December.
• Vaughn Cockayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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