This startling revelation has prompted US companies, Nike, Adidas and H&M to stop sourcing cotton from Xinjiang. The Chinese state media is already trying to quash these American companies for daring to take a stand. Famous Chinese athletes and celebrities are calling on Chinese citizens to boycott these American brands. Wang Yibo and Eason Chan have already announced a boycott on all American companies that do not buy Chinese cotton. China’s popular e-commerce platform, Alibaba has already blacklisted H&M products, removing the popular American brand from online Chinese stores.
Meanwhile, the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities continue to suffer in Chinese concentrations camps where they are sexually abused, physically tortured, indoctrinated, stripped of their beliefs, and forced into sterilization, abortion, and organ harvesting. (Related: Pompeo says China’s treatment of Muslims and ethnic minorities is genocide.)
A third of Xinjiang’s cotton production is controlled by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a paramilitary group that oversees slave labor to maximize cotton production in the region. Due to rising concerns of slavery and genocide, the US has placed import restrictions and imposed sanctions on all suppliers associated with the XPCC.
According to a report by independent researcher Adrian Zenz, XPCC and a growing network of Chinese authorities have been using “labour transfer programs” to ship in and rotate hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other minority workers to pick the cotton. According to the investigation, all cotton produced in Xinjiang is now produced using slave labor. Zenz has analyzed government intel and state media communications to document a coercive trail of human rights abuses. The international criminal court refuses to take up jurisdiction in Xinjiang, even as evidence of human rights abuses and genocide mount.
Chinese authorities use the “labour transfer” scheme to supposedly “lift people out of poverty.” However, there is growing evidence the program is shipping in Uighur and other Muslim minorities from detainment camps. In Tibet, authorities used the labour transfer program to move hundreds of thousands of prisoners into military-style work training facilities.
The southern region of Xinjiang does not use mechanical harvesting procedures. The area relies on manual labor. These laborers are not coming voluntarily. In fact, a large proportion of them are ethnic minorities who have no choice but to participate. The prefectures of Aksu, Hotan, and Kashgar have used up at least 570,000 individuals – mostly ethnic minorities who come from the detainment camps. These workers are transferred far from their home and forced to live on the job site in factory buildings. The workers are subject to job training, ideological brainwashing and a set of behavioral controls that they must abide by. The Chinese authorities force these workers to abandon “illegal religious activities” and abide by the communist state. These details are included in state media reports that praise the Chinese government’s “compassionate” programs that lift the Uighurs out of poverty.
These cotton-picking programs are advertised as helping the minorities in “gradually overcoming the disadvantages of the lack of land, deep-rooted thoughts of being lazy, insufficient inner motivation, and low awareness of going out to work.” One report praised the program for getting “rid of the old-fashioned, blocked, and lazy thoughts of peasants and herdsmen.”
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