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Why It’s So Hard for the Solar Industry to Quit Xinjiang

Nearly half the global supply for the raw material used to make solar panels is produced in the troubled Chinese region. 

Activ Solar GmbH Solar Park

Photographer: Vincent Mundy/Bloomberg 

Updated on

(This story was originally published on Feb. 11. The U.S. House passed legislation Wednesday to punish China for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.)

Chinese solar companies are among 175 around the world that signed a non-binding pledge by a U.S. trade group to avoid forced labor. It will be much harder for them to actually cut ties with Xinjiang, the western China region facing increasing scrutiny for human-rights abuses.