Chinese Imports Seized at U.S. Border, Disappointing John Kerry

John Kerry owns a $1 million stake in the investment group, Hillhouse China Value Fund L.P., which is backing LONGi Green Energy, a Chinese solar panel company that is known to use forced labor. Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized products being imported from the company under a “Withhold Release Order” which is “‘intended to prevent merchandise produced in whole or in part in a foreign country using forced labor from being imported into the United States,’ according to the CBP website.”

According to the Washington Free Beacon, “The news could raise additional concerns about the Kerry family’s investment in Hillhouse China Value Fund L.P., which the climate envoy disclosed at the beginning of the year. Although Kerry divested from many of his energy-related holdings in March, the list of divestments did not include Hillhouse, according to a disclosure Kerry filed in March with the Office of Government Ethics. The investment has drawn scrutiny from Republican lawmakers and China experts, who accuse Kerry of downplaying and enabling China’s human rights abuses while trying to win concessions from Beijing on climate change.”

Kerry even critiqued lawmakers for punishing Chinese solar panel companies. Free Beacon quoted Kerry saying, “‘On the one hand, we’re saying to [China], ‘You have to do more to help deal with the climate.’ And on the other hand, their solar panels are being sanctioned which makes it harder for them to sell them.’’’ Sympathetic to the Chinese companies, Kerry appears to find forced labor and the persecution of the Uyghur population insignificant when climate change is such a dangerous threat to life. 

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Still, LONGi’s board of directors claimed that the Withhold Release Order “has not yet caused the company’s operations significant adverse effects.” However, the situation is being monitored in wake of the Biden administration’s ban on imports coming from China’s Xinjiang region where they are abusing human rights by using the forced labor of minority populations. 

The situation surrounding China’s violation of human rights in relation to the Hillhouse investment group grows even more troubling. “The Hillhouse investment group, which is run by Zhang Lei, an adviser to the Chinese government, owns a 6 percent stake in LONGi. Hillhouse is also a top shareholder of YITU Technology, a company that was blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Commerce for allegedly aiding the Chinese government’s surveillance of Uyghurs.”

With the news, and history, of such labor and human rights abuses in China, the Biden administration is being pressed to place penalties on these companies by lobbyists. The American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (ASMACC) has been “lobbying the Biden administration to investigate the supply chain of LONGi specifically, and other Chinese solar panel companies linked to forced labor, and to impose additional tariffs on those goods.”

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