CNN's article Biden signs bill banning goods from China's Xinjiang over forced labor says:

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is part of the US pushback against Beijing's treatment of China's Uyghur Muslim minority, which Washington has labeled genocide.

The bill passed Congress this month after lawmakers reached a compromise between House and Senate versions.

Key to the legislation is a "rebuttable presumption" that assumes all goods from Xinjiang, where Beijing has established detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim groups, are made with forced labor. It bars imports unless it can be proven otherwise.

Some goods — such as cotton, tomatoes, and polysilicon used in solar-panel manufacturing — are designated "high priority" for enforcement action.

China denies abuses in Xinjiang, a major cotton producer that also supplies much of the world's materials for solar panels.

Perhaps the most familiar form of Rebuttable presumption is the presumption of innocence in a criminal proceeding, but in this case it's essentially a presumption of guilt.

Is CNN highlighting something that's at least somewhat new, different and unusual in US foreign policy, or is this used somewhat regularly?

Question: Is Rebuttable presumption a new thing in US foreign policy? (presumption of Xinjiang forced labor)


1 Answer 1


Q: Is Rebuttable presumption a new thing in US foreign policy?

No, it was used in the case of North Korea as part of H.R.3364, Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which became PL 115-44, Aug. 2, 2017.

22 U.S. Code § 9241a. Rebuttable presumption applicable to goods made with North Korean labor.

The importation of products made with forced labor has long been prohibited. While the current prohibition is from the Tariff Act of 1930 (as amended) and expressed in 19 U.S. Code § 1307. Convict-made goods; importation prohibited, similar wording was used in prior tariff acts.

In 1988, Congress expressed a "Sense of Congress" to "enforce Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 without delay" against the USSR for the use of forced labor for exported products. (See, PL 100-418.) This provision was repealed in 1993.

The first use, in foreign policy, of "rebuttable presumption" for the use of forced labor was for products from North Korea.

  • One can go back much further than that. Similar concepts were present, for example, in late 19th century and early 20th century (especially after 1915) immigration policies directed at China. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Exclusion_Act The use of the concept in law generally is even more ancient, far pre-dating U.S. independence.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 28, 2021 at 7:53
  • 1
    I always wait at least several days before accepting an answer, but this certainly looks good enough to accept. Thanks!
    – uhoh
    Dec 28, 2021 at 23:02

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