US Customs and Border Protection seized a shipment from a Chinese company backed by an investment fund in which John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate czar, holds a $1 million stake, according to a report.
The shipment from LONGi Green Energy Technology, the world’s largest maker of solar panels, was held under a law prohibiting foreign imports manufactured using forced labor, the Washington Free Beacon reported Monday.
LONGi buys polysilicon, a material used in the production of solar panels, from three companies that get their raw materials from Xinjiang-based Hoshine Silicon Industry.
Hoshine was placed under restrictions by the Biden administration in June for using forced labor in a region of China where Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups are being held in massive detention centers and made to work against their will.
The products were temporarily held by CBP from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3 under a “Withhold Release Order,” LONGi said in an announcement filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Nov. 4, the Free Beacon reported.
Such orders ban the importation of foreign goods that are mined, produced or manufactured using forced labor.
Along with LONGi, JinkoSolar Holding Company Limited, Canadian Solar Inc. and Trina Solar Co. — which all have ties to Hoshine — have had shipments stopped in recent months, Bloomberg News reported.
Last December, Hillhouse China Value Fund acquired a 6 percent stake in LONGi, making it the company’s second-largest shareholder. Kerry, a former secretary of state in the Obama administration, holds a stake in Hillhouse through a trust that benefits his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Hillhouse Capital Group is operated by billionaire Chinese investor Zhang Lei, who has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
Republicans have long criticized Kerry for his connection to a company allegedly involved in labor abuses, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) suggesting Kerry is “profiting from slave labor” in an op-ed published last month by Fox News.
Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused Kerry of working against a bill that would make it impossible to import products made by forced labor in Xinjiang.
“President Biden now has a choice: stand by the man profiting from slave labor or fire him,” Rubio wrote. “It should be an easy choice, but the Biden administration and some Democrats are so desperate for a climate deal with the Chinese Communist Party that they are willing to ignore the regime’s use of slave labor.”
The Free Beacon said LONGi, the White House and the CBP did not respond to requests for comment.