China calls US ban on solar materials an economic attack using 'human rights as a disguise'

A spokesperson for China’s government on Thursday pushed back on the Biden administration’s move to bar U.S. imports of material used to make solar panels from a Chinese-based firm over accusations of forced labor. 

“The U.S. uses human rights as a disguise to do all it could to cripple the industrial development in Xinjiang,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a video posted to Twitter. 

“They don’t care about facts, or truth or the wellbeing of the people in Xinjiang, what they’re really after is to seek forced poverty and forced unemployment to mess up Xinjiang and contain China’s development,” Zhao said, while denying the forced labor accusations. 


On Thursday, the White House said that the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection issued a “withhold release order” on silica-based products produced by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd. and its subsidiaries. 

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It said that this was because of information “reasonably indicating” that the company, which is based in China’s Xinjiang region, engages in forced labor practices. 

The step marked the latest attempt to punish China over abuses against the Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang. 

The impact that the move will have on the U.S. solar industry isn’t immediately clear, but a major trade group released a statement on Thursday backing the Biden administration’s move.