BCI will remain committed to cotton farming communities in Xinjiang despite suspension of licensing

By Liu Xin and Zhang Hongpei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/22 19:03:40

A cotton field in Awat County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Oct.25, 2019. With a long history of cotton planting, Awat is known as the "Town of Cotton" in China. The county boasts high-quality cotton and high-efficiency in production. (Xinhua/Sadat)

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a global not-for-profit organization, told the Global Times that it will remain committed to cotton farming communities in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and that media reports on the organization's work of forced labor and decent work will focus on Xinjiang are "imprecise or inaccurate."

The BCI has set up a multi-stakeholder Task Force on Forced Labor and Decent Work in order to develop recommendations for the Global BCI Program. These efforts were initiated originally in line with the BCI's aspiration to explore the possibility of developing a BCI Program in Uzbekistan, the organization said in an exclusive reply to the Global Times. 

Many overseas news outlets, including VOA Chinese, reported that the BCI announced it would "suspend its activities in Xinjiang" over concerns of "forced labor in the region."

In an announcement released on March 11, BCI said that it is "suspending its assurance activities in the Xinjiang region of China," but added that "we will continue to support farmers in the region during this period."

The organization said it has "contracted a recognized global expert to conduct an external review to document the situation in Western China." However, the result of the review had not yet been released before the decision was made to pull the license in Xinjiang. According to its official website, the BCI has regional offices in China. 

"Multi-stakeholder support for the BCI Programme in Xinjiang has recently evolved, and we no longer have the necessary consensus to continue licensing farmers. However, we are currently working on reappraising BCI's processes and regaining that consensus as fast as possible," the BCI told the Global Times. 

"We remain committed to cotton farming communities in Xinjiang and will continue to engage in activities in the region while assurance activities are suspended."

Engagement during the period of suspension will consist of a BCI local team delivering training and providing support to Implementing Partners as well as direct support to farm managers on the Better Cotton Standard System, according to the BCI. 

Considering the continued slandering of China over so-called forced labor issues recently, the latest hyping of BCI's move shows some anti-China forces are targeting the entire industrial chain related to cotton planting, yarn manufacturing and garment-making in Xinjiang, experts said. 


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