“The smiling faces of all of Xinjiang’s ethnic groups are the most powerful response to America’s lies and rumours,” wrote the Chinese foreign ministry in a faxed response to the BBC, when it submitted questions for its latest exposé on Uyghur forced labor.
That was, of course, another Chinese Communist Party lie. The report, which sheds more light on the CCP’s slave labor operation in the Xinjiang region, relies on documents dug up by Adrian Zenz. The German China researcher — and persistent target of CCP disinformation — has once again found compelling evidence that further colors our understanding of the Xinjiang genocide, this time proving that the Chinese authorities have forced well over half a million people into the region’s cotton industry.
Zenz’s work demonstrates that this has been accomplished by a door-to-door campaign, where CCP cadres force Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in the region into cotton-harvesting and -processing activities. Much of this is connected to the region’s brutal concentration camps.
Clearly, the sheer scale of these abuses makes this an issue of international concern. But there’s another global implication to this research: Some 20 percent of the world’s cotton is harvested in Xinjiang, which puts some renowned brands just downstream of the CCP’s depravities.
Or, as Zenz put it in a WSJ op-ed this week:
Based on my findings, it must be assumed that all Xinjiang cotton is contaminated by forced labor. In addition to the limited U.S. ban, governments around the world should consider a total ban on all products made with the region’s cotton.
So are these bans forthcoming?
The Trump administration has taken steps toward implementing such a measure. In addition to blacklisting companies and sanctioning officials involved in Beijing’s human-rights abuses in the region, the Trump administration has issued Withhold Release Orders — measures that restrict the import of certain goods — on parts of Xinjiang’s cotton economy. Most notably, it cracked down on imports from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which plays a significant role in the Xinjiang cotton economy. The administration has yet to put in place a blanket ban on Xinjiang cotton, though it has reportedly considered one.
One bill awaiting a vote in the Senate would effectively do just that. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act creates a presumption under U.S. law that goods from the Xinjiang region were produced using forced labor. The burden would be on companies to prove that that’s not the case — which is why a number of multinational firms, such as Apple and Coca-Cola, have reportedly lobbied to water down provisions of the legislation.
By any measure, and even without a complete ban on Xinjiang cotton imports, the U.S. leads the world in its response to the crisis. No other country has enacted similar measures specifically targeting CCP forced labor, much less enacted sanctions against officials responsible for it.
Fortunately, it seems that Zenz’s latest research, like his previous reports, has made waves. This week the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning and calling for sanctions targeting those responsible for Uyghur forced labor. And the U.K. government said that companies have a responsibility to ensure that their supply chains are not tainted by forced labor.
While awareness of the genocide and other related human-rights atrocities taking place in Xinjiang has risen, and although governments have warmed to some promising measures recently, there’s still so much more to be done.