'Xinjiang's white cotton will not be stained': Industry associations condemn Western boycott
Published: Mar 29, 2021 05:38 PM
Aerial photo taken on Oct. 24, 2019 shows a harvesting machine picking cotton in a field in Awat County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. 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)

Aerial photo taken on Oct. 24, 2019 shows a harvesting machine picking cotton in a field in Awat County, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. 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)

Several industry associations including trade unions, the women's federation and cotton association in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have issued statements condemning the Western boycott against made-in-Xinjiang cotton by fabricating lies of "forced labor" and smearing the local human rights situation. They said they will never allow the local cotton industry to be "stained" nor locals' road to a better life to be obstructed.

The Xinjiang federation of trade unions said that anti-China forces led by the US recently made up lies claiming that "China forced hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority laborers in Xinjiang to pick cotton by hand through poverty alleviation projects," which has fully laid bare their sinister intentions of interfering in China's internal affairs and undermining security and stability in the region under the guise of human rights, reported the region's news portal

Recent announcements from several foreign textile and garment companies, including H&M, that they would stop using Xinjiang cotton and call for a boycott of the product have angered the Chinese people, Xinjiang's cotton association said.

The Xinjiang cotton association urged the relevant brands and institutions to stop their wrong behaviors. Such erroneous acts, which ignore the progress and development of human rights in Xinjiang and seriously undermine the legitimate rights and interests of cotton growers and textile and garment workers of all ethnic groups in the region to get paid and improve their living standards through work, are typical "lies of the century." Their hypocritical behaviors of fake concerns and real interference are disgusting, the association said.

The association said it welcomes overseas enterprises to visit Xinjiang to look at the vigorous development of the cotton industry in the region, and make business decisions based on objective facts. 

"We are looking forward to establishing an objective and friendly textile industry cooperation relationship with our foreign counterparts," said the association.

The door to Xinjiang is always open, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on March 24. In 2019, more than 200 million visits were made to the region. "We welcome any unbiased foreigners to visit Xinjiang, but firmly oppose any so-called 'investigation' that presumes guilt, and stand against anyone using this as a political maneuver to pressure China," she said.

Hua's remarks came as Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta in a joint statement on March 23 reiterated their call on China to grant meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for UN experts and other independent observers. 

As the main cotton producing area in China, Xinjiang has realized mechanization, intellectualization and large-scale seeding in the industry. The mechanized picking rate of cotton in the region has reached 75.5 percent, and in northern Xinjiang it is as high as 95 percent, the federation of trade unions said.

Xinjiang's annual cotton output is about 5 million tons, accounting for more than 80 percent of China's cotton output. Over half of all farmers in the region plant cotton, which has become their main source of income, said the cotton association.

The improvement of cotton production capacity in Xinjiang has driven the development of the local cotton textile industry. Nearly 600,000 local people are now employed in the cotton industry. 

With strong support from national strategic planning of the cotton industry and various policies, Xinjiang has become a region with the hottest investment, lowest costs and fastest development in the textile and garment industry in China, said the women's federation.

The progress and development of the cotton industry is the result of the hard work of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, who are also the biggest beneficiaries of the cotton industry, the federation noted.

The federation noted that the cotton industry provides a platform for exchanges and integration between women from Xinjiang and other parts of China. Every year, many cotton pickers from provinces including Gansu, Sichuan, Henan and Jiangsu go to Xinjiang. The women from Xinjiang and other areas eat and live together, learn from each other, make progress together, and have forged profound friendships and promoted national unity.

Women of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang participate in labor and employment of their own volition. They sign labor contracts in accordance with the law, and enjoy the right to be paid for work, rest and vacation. The legitimate rights and interests of women during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding are also protected by law, according to the federation.

The federation of trade unions also said the cotton pickers choose which cotton growers to work for under the local regulations. The two sides sign labor contracts on the basis of equality and consensus, and the cotton pickers can obtain the corresponding remuneration. The cotton pickers also enjoy freedom in choosing where to work.

"We fully respect and protect the right of ethnic minority employees to use their own spoken and written languages. Employees can freely choose which language to use for communication, said the trade union," it said.

The federation of trade unions fully respects the customs and habits of employees of all nationalities, and provides Muslim meals for its employees.

Besides, "We have set up legal service stations and volunteer groups of lawyers to safeguard workers' rights and interests, and provide free legal consultation and psychological counseling services to workers of all ethnic groups," the federation said.

People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang know that happiness will never come without hard work and that it is up to them to create good days. They all hope to find stable jobs and earn more money, said the trade union.

For example, the average annual income of working-age workers in Kashi is about 4,000 yuan ($610.8) when they work at home, while the average annual income in enterprises surpasses 20,000 yuan. Couples working in companies can earn more than 60,000 yuan annually. Through their hard work, they have improved their family life and significantly increased their sense of happiness.

The federation pointed out that the US is the country with the real "forced labor" issue.

The annual Trafficking in Persons Report by the US government acknowledged that the US is a source, destination and transit country for human trafficking, with severe problems related to forced labor, forced prostitution and debt slavery. Even some US officials are involved in human trafficking and forced labor. 

In June 2015, the International Trade Union Confederation released a report that listed the US as one of the countries that systematically violated workers' rights.

The federation stressed that "a lie repeated a thousand times cannot become a truth." No matter how much the anti-China forces in the West smear Xinjiang, they will not be able to hinder its prosperity and development, nor will they change the wonderful situation of solidarity, friendship, mutual help and common progress of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

China's market and the world's market are big enough that the cultivation and marketing of cotton in Xinjiang will not be fundamentally affected by the so-called sanctions, noted the federation.

Local workers will never allow the evil nature of Western politicians to stain the white cotton of Xinjiang, it said.

Global Times