WASHINGTON—The Biden administration plans to broaden its campaign against the use of forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region by imposing penalties on some companies that produce raw materials used to make solar panels, according to people familiar with the plans.
Under the plan, to be announced Thursday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection would bar imports of metallurgical-grade silicon mined by Hoshine Silicon Industry (Shanshan) Co., as well as products made from it, unless the company can prove the material isn’t produced with forced labor, these people said.
The Commerce Department would add Hoshine and four others involved in silicon production to its entity list, which requires U.S. companies to get a license to sell them products or technology; such licenses are rarely granted. The Labor Department would add polysilicon made in China to its list of products made by forced labor.
The actions are likely to be largely symbolic. They would reinforce the administration’s concern about human rights in Xinjiang, where the U.S. says China is engaged in genocide against the region’s Uyghur population. The U.S. has already banned imports of cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang, where Uyghurs and members of other largely Muslim ethnic groups have been rounded up in detention centers.
The new actions are unlikely to hobble China’s solar industry or make it difficult for U.S. businesses to build or sell solar panels, though they will have to ensure the materials they import comply with the order.