The House Oversight Committee’s Republican members are worried funds from the Department of Homeland Security are being utilized to buy Chinese solar panels in defiance of the law.
Illegal for the US to purchase, import goods made in China by forced labor
Republican legislators asked the DHS inspector general in a letter on Wednesday to evaluate the $5 billion in money the U.S. Virgin Islands received from the agency to strengthen its electrical grid, following two catastrophic hurricanes in 2017.
There are worries, according to the MPs, that the territory may have used the funds to buy solar panels created using forced labor inflicted by China’s communist government.
Because of China’s leadership in the solar business, Rep. Bob Gibbs stressed the importance of making sure “no government-funded projects are boosting Chinese corporations profiting from Uyghur slave labor in western China.”
If this can’t be verified, then we have a national security concern.
Republican senators point out that federal legislation passed in December 2021 makes it illegal for the United States to buy or import products created in China using forced labor in the predominately Muslim Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.
China dominates solar and battery production. Minerals = 60%–70% of the cost to produce solar panels & lithium batteries. And China's solar panel labor costs have been very low to free, considering that they have been covered as part of its genocide.https://t.co/Ffx5KwtjJe
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) September 7, 2022
The U.S. Virgin Islands governor announced plans to convert a sizable chunk of the territory’s electrical grid to 100% solar power earlier this year.
Gov. Albert Bryan, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands, stated, “If we have one island burning the least amount of gasoline possible, that’s a major solution for us.”
Republicans claim the vow is problematic, given that DHS paid the Virgin Islands $5 billion since 2017 to rehabilitate its electrical grid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
They point out China holds a significant amount of the resources essential for the development of solar panels.
Not only is the Biden administration allowing importation of solar panels made in Uyghur slave labor camps, his spokeswoman won't condemn Chinese media report that it would shoot down Pelosi's plane if she flew into Taiwan. What a shameful display of weakness and moral cowardice.
— Joanne Mason (@JoanneMason11) July 29, 2022
There are 25 million people living in Xinjiang today, most of whom consider themselves as Muslim Uyghurs. It also borders Pakistan, India, and the majority of central Asia.
Beijing and Uyghur separatists have been at odds in the province since the early 1990s.
Chinese government wages campaign of repression
In recent years, the Chinese government waged a campaign of repression using the danger of separatism and the alleged connections that Uyghur independence movements have with Islamic radicals.
Beijing has imposed mass detentions, forced sterilizations, torture, forced labor, and limits on freedom of religion and freedom of movement. All of this is happening inside the area using a national counterterrorism law.
According to a State Department report published in May of last year, Beijing allegedly suppressed the rights of more than 200 million religious adherents, including Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated at the time, “China widely criminalizes religious expression and proceeds to perpetrate crimes against humanity and genocide against Muslim Uyghurs, along with other religious and ethnic minority groups.”