A new law in the United States that bans imports from China’s Xinjiang region has resulted in piling up more than a thousand stocks of solar energy components which cost hundreds of millions of dollars at US ports. The new ban has been due to concerns over slave labor in the Chinese region, as per federal customs officials and industry sources.
The number of stocks at the ports is a sign of a US policy to build force on China regarding its detention camps for the Muslim Uyghur community in the Xinjiang region. But the policy also puts the US government at risk of slowing its efforts to decarbonize its power sector to combat climate change.
The US Customs and Border Protection informed British news agency Reuters, while responding to a public records request, that no shipments have been released as of yet. It also said that the agency seized 1,055 stocks of solar energy components during the period between June 21 and October 25. This was also the time when the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act was implemented.
The news agency has also reported that the equipment includes panels and polysilicon cells which have a capacity of up to 1 gigawatt and are majorly made by three Chinese manufacturers – Longi Green Energy Technology Co Ltd, Trina Solar Co Ltd and JinkoSolar Holding Co.
A third of the entire US panel supplies are provided by these three combined. However, these companies have stopped new exports to the United States while maintaining that more cargoes will also be halted, said industry sources.
China has rejected accusations of human rights violations in Xinjiang. While initially denying any detention camps in the area, it later admitted to setting up “vocational training centers” which, according to it, was implemented to curb terrorism, separatism, and religious radicalism in the region.
Li Gao, the director of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s climate change office, claimed last month that some nations “fabricate reasons to suppress China’s photovoltaic enterprises…damaging the global collective effort to fight climate change.”