Forced Labor Products in Xinjiang Shows US-China Trade and Human Rights Issues Closely Linked

By Kitty Wang

WASHINGTON—Citizen Power Initiatives for China issued a report that exposes the forced labor in Chinese prisons and re-education camps, and its connection with the cotton and apparel industry.

The investigative report, released on August 22, says Beijing has created a cotton gulag in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.

Xinjiang produces 84 percent of China’s cotton output and is a primary supplier and exporter of cotton, textile, and apparel products. The report found that large numbers of prisoners, as well as the local Uyghur population currently detained in re-education camps in Xinjiang, serve as a key labor force in every link of China’s cotton value chain.

Louisa Greve, Director for External Affairs of the Uyghur Human Rights Project told NTD in an interview, “The most chilling piece of evidence that we are grateful to be able to see now, is an advertisement for companies selling garments, advertising the advantage of its garments because they are produced in a prison.”

Jianli Yang, President of Citizen Power Initiatives for China also told NTD, “We want to expose the case of Xinjiang to tell everyone that China’s cotton industry is almost controlled by a gulag system. This is a serious matter!”

Over the years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been using millions of prisoners and detainees in labor camps as a source of free labor for the domestic and export economies. This model helps the CCP to achieve its political goal of suppression; as well as its economic goals, which are based on exploitation.

Lianchao Han, Vice President, Citizen Power Initiatives for China said, “I think the pattern of persecution was started with the (suppression of) Falun Gong. For a long time, Falun Gong has done lots of investigative reports document those forced labor [in China].”

As the U.S.-China trade war continues, experts believe that Beijing-approved forced-labor should be included in negotiations about China’s unfair trade practices.

“The trade deficit between the United States and China is largely due to the human rights deficit. If you want to change this unbalanced trade relationship, you must pay attention to China’s human rights,” Jianli said.

Experts also called upon the U.S. government to sanction the CCP’s human rights abusers, and ask that U.S. Customs and Border Protection ban cotton textile products from Xinjiang.