The autonomous Chinese region of Xinjiang continues to be topical. What is common knowledge now is that the region is an open prison for the Uyghur people who mainly profess Islam. As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims, it is “re-educating” these people. But it is now also becoming increasingly evident that Xinjiang is the site of modern-day state-sponsored slavery perpetrated by Beijing.
Xinjiang’s cotton, in particular, is produced using forced labor. In response, several clothing lines and/or companies are removing clothing containing Xinjiang cotton from their shelves. China’s government and netizens have also responded with a backlash. As Alix Kroeger puts it in an article published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), there is a row over Xinjiang cotton. So do you know if cotton from Xinjiang is in your jeans? Here is an excerpt from Kroeger’s article on this question and development. First Kroeger questions:
What are the concerns about Xinjiang cotton?
Rights groups say Xinjiang’s Uighur minority (also spelled as “Uyghur”) are being persecuted and conscripted for forced labour.
Evidence shown to the BBC suggests that upwards of half a million Uighur minority workers a year are being marshalled into seasonal cotton picking under conditions that appear to raise a high risk of coercion.
“Right now, there is near certainty that any brand sourcing apparel, textiles, yarn or cotton from the Uyghur Region is profiting from human rights violations, including forced labour, both in the Uyghur Region and more broadly throughout China,” says the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, whose members include Anti-Slavery International and the World Uyghur Congress.