Chinese cotton: reports of forced labour

Producing over 20% of the world’s cotton, China is under the spotlight this week. The Centre for Global Policy stated there is significant evidence cotton produced in the Xinjang region is ‘tainted’ by human rights abuses including suspected forced labour of Uighur and other Turkic Muslim minority people. The US has already imposed significant cotton import restrictions and sanctions on suppliers from the region (controlled by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps) over concerns about human rights abuses.

China denies any wrong doing and investigations despite reports of mass internments, in fact pointing to the success of programmes helping millions into work.

MP Nusrat Ghani, who investigated the issue for the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, has urged UK business to look carefully at the supply chain, examining processes and sources rigorously to ensure they are not inadvertently profiting from slave labour or the abuse of minority groups. Mainly focusing on retail brands, a report from the BBC showed most large retailers already do not use raw cotton from Xinjang.

The promotional merchandise industry is urged to ensure supply chains are interrogated.

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