Huffman, Gallagher, Grijalva, Krishnamoorthi Led Bipartisan Effort to Support U.S. Sanctions Against Chinese Entities Engaging in Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor

February 16, 2024

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries Ranking Member Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA-02), and House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08) and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08), and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-07) led a bipartisan letter in support of a Global Magnitsky Sanctions Recommendation petition submitted by the Outlaw Ocean Project, in collaboration with a human rights NGO, urging the State and Treasury Departments to impose sanctions on seven Chinese companies that were found to be complicit in severe human rights abuses against Uyghur workers in China’s seafood industry and supply chain.

“The submission by the Outlaw Ocean Project in collaboration with a human rights NGO provides credible evidence documenting the prevalence of seafood linked to forced labor in U.S. markets. Disturbingly, the entities listed in the petition hold contracts with major grocery retailers, food providers, and the U.S. government, including supplying U.S. schools and government facilities with seafood linked to forced labor,” the members said in their letter.

The seven companies implicated include Yantai Sanko Fisheries, Yantai Longwin Foods, The Chishan Group (including Shandong Haidu and Rongcheng Haibo), Shandong Meijia Group (including Rizhao Meijia Aquatic Foodstuff, Rizhao Jiayuan Foodstuff, and Rizhao Meijia Keyuan Foods), Qingdao Tianyuan Aquatic Foodstuffs, Rongsense Group (including Rizhao Rirong Aquatic Products and Rizhao Rongxing), and Xinjiang Zhongtai Zhihui Modern Service.

“Approving this petition will reiterate the U.S.’s commitment to preventing the import of goods manufactured with Uyghur forced labor and exert pressure on Chinese firms, compelling them to discontinue the use of Uyghur forced labor, rightfully disincentivizing and penalizing inhumane labor practices and human rights abuses,” the members said.

Additional Background

The Global Magnitsky Sanctions Program was created to address global human rights abuses and corruption, granting the U.S. government the authority to apply targeted sanctions against individuals or entities involved in severe human rights violations or significant corruption.

The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 officially recognizes abuses perpetrated by the Chinese government against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang as punishable offenses under this program. In 2021, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act became law, which broadened the scope of offenses to include “serious human rights abuses in connection with forced labor.”

On December 6, 2023, a similar petition was submitted in Canada by the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project and the Human Rights Action Group, urging Global Affairs Canada to impose sanctions on these seven Chinese companies.  The Global Magnitsky Sanctions Recommendation follows these actions and serves as a step in the right direction for the United States in preventing human rights violations.

In addition to Reps. Huffman, Grijalva, Gallager, and Krishnamoorthi, the letter was signed by Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA-26),  Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), Jim Moylan (R-GU-01), Mary Peltola (D-AK-01), Delia Ramirez (D-IL-03), and Jill Tokuda (D-HI-02).

A copy of the letter can be found here.