BCI slammed for refusing to quit Xinjiang
BCI slammed for refusing to quit Xinjiang

BCI slammed for refusing to quit Xinjiang

A- A+
Το περιεχόμενο του άρθρου δεν είναι διαθέσιμο στη γλώσσα που έχετε επιλέξει και ως εκ τούτου το εμφανίζουμε στην αυθεντική του εκδοχή. Μπορείτε να χρησιμοποιήσετε την υπηρεσία Google Translate για να το μεταφράσετε.

XINJIANG − A leading expert has criticised the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) for refusing to pull out of the Xinjiang region of China, where cotton suppliers - including a member of its own council - have been accused of using forced labour.

The BCI maintains that its implicated council member, the Huafu Fashion Co Ltd, has denied the allegations and that an independent social compliance audit of the company's Aksu facility in Xinjiang had failed to identify any instances of forced labour.

However, Dr Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington DC, questioned the value of the rebuttal in his testimony to the House of Representatives' Sub-committee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation.

He told a recent hearing, on Political and Religious Human Rights Challenges in China, that "asking an independent social audit in an environment as controlled as Xinjiang is like asking the fox to check that no hens are missing".

"My own research on Huafu comes to far more troubling conclusions," said Zenz. "Company reports depict hundreds of Uyghurs in military uniforms at a staff training event, and a Xinjiang government website reports that Huafu is part of an official training initiative that subjects Uyghurs to centralised 'military drill, thought transformation... and de-extremification'."

Chinese media had quoted Huafu’s staff training and development manager, Peng Xianxiang, as saying “the local government sends us workers according to company staffing needs", he said, adding that an Aksu government report confirmed Uyghur workers had been trained and sent to Huafu.

The BCI has condemned the use of forced labour in the cotton industry by Muslim prisoners held in Uyghur detention camps in Xingjiang but has so far stopped short of pulling out of the country where a fifth of its 'better cotton' is grown.

Zenz described the actions of the Chinese government in the region, where an estimated one million Uyghurs have been detained in 're-education camps' as "probably the largest incarceration of an ethno-religious minority since the Holocaust".

He said Chinese companies were paid subsidies to train and employ prisoners who were forced to work in factories in or near 'Vocational Training Internment Camps', or in satellite factories further afield.

According to Zenz, companies received 1,800 Chinese Yuan (US$260) for each detainee they trained, 5,000 Yuan (US$720) for each one they employed, and firms taking part also qualified for a shipping cost subsidy worth four per cent of their sales.

"In 2018, Huafu Corporation, which operates the world's largest dyed yarn production in Xinjiang, received half a billion Chinese Yuan (US$71 million) in subsidies from the Xinjiang government," he told the sub-committee.

Other prisoners were forced to take part in centralised training schemes, incorporating 'political thought indoctrination' and military drills alongside vocational training, before being sent off to live and work in factories, often far from their homes.

Zenz said: "As a result, many or most products made in China that rely at least in part on low-skilled, labour-intensive manufacturing, can contain elements of involuntary ethnic minority labour from Xinjiang.

"Due to the local police state conditions, due diligence audits of supply chains are impossible."

In a separate article, published on the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation website, Zenz concluded: "Is Huafu involved in forced labour? At the very least, it is heavily implicated in a wider scheme of involuntary servitude, which constitutes a form of human trafficking.

"But the wider point is that traditional approaches of identifying specific instances of forced labour do not work for Xinjiang. In the vast majority of cases, such evidence will never be directly available.

"The only viable solution is to consider the entire region to be thoroughly tainted with different forms of coercive labour. This means that nothing made in whole or in part with products from Xinjiang should have any place in an ethically clean supply chain."

Despite the controversy, the BCI last week released a statement saying it planned to continue its role in Xinjiang, China’s main cotton producing hub, where it has worked with cotton farmers to encourage more sustainable practices for the last seven years.

It stresses it has no "evidence of forced labour on farms within BCI programmes" in Xinjiang but admits that "due diligence efforts are being called into question in the region".

"Recognising that a critical mass of farmers as well as their families and communities have benefited from BCI Programmes in Xinjiang, a decision to stay or walk away is not straightforward," the BCI statement said.

"Simply stepping out could cause more harm than good. However, in the current political context, and with new information emerging regularly, we need to ensure we are considering all options."

When contacted for a comment today by Ecotextile News, a BCI spokeswoman said: "At this stage, we do not have anything different to say than what is in the statement."

Πηγή: ecotextile.com



Εγγραφείτε στο καθημερινό μας newsletter