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The International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit kicked off Tuesday in Washington, D.C., with a leading breakout session on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).

The bipartisan law presumes all goods produced in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China are made with forced labor unless proven otherwise.

An estimated 100,000 Uyghurs and other ethnic minority ex-detainees in China may be working in conditions of forced labor following detention in re-education camps, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., a longtime advocate for human rights, says there are gaps in UFLPA that need to be filled.

The law allows shipments under $800 to avoid the need for any proof, allowing some companies to avoid the regulation by importing goods in small shipments.

“Who’s opening up the packages to see if these crates are $800 or less? They don’t get inspected. So, that is a very serious flaw that we have to correct,” Smith said.

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Rushan Abbas, an Uyghur American activist and IRF Summit speaker, told Fox News Digital she shares a similar opinion on the legislation.

“We really need to implement it more strongly. … Chinese companies and many other companies are still profiting off the Uyghur peoples’ blood, sweat and tears. [They are] still using the de minimis part of the UFPLA to ship goods in small packages,” she said.

After President Xi Jinping visited San Francisco in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference at the invitation of President Biden, Smith condemned the Chinese leader.

“That was the most disgusting display of corporate malfeasance, maybe ever. They were paying huge amounts of money to have dinner with Xi Jinping, who should be at The Hague for crimes against humanity and genocide,” Smith said. “Huge amounts of money just to have access to a market. Well, let’s have a free China then talk about access.”

Abbas says the welcoming of President Xi by leaders in the business world sends a message to dictators that it is OK to continue undermining human dignity and human rights. She adds that “none of these CEOs, none of these people can claim ignorance today” with all the information that is out there on China’s grave human rights violations.

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She has witnessed firsthand the suppression of the Chinese government after her sister, Gulshan Abbas, was jailed six days after Rushan made her first public speech addressing Uyghur human rights violations. 

rushan abbas

“[She is] in jail today because I exercised my freedom of speech. … I am an American citizen. As an American citizen, [it] is my First Amendment right.”

Abbas says each year attending the International Religious Freedom Summit is important to her to share her story.

“If we don’t hold the Chinese Communist government accountable today, it will be … democratic countries who are taking the consequences of an illiberal world where China is intimidating everybody who speaks out, everybody who defends human rights. … This is about the future of the free world,” said Abbas.

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