CHINA / SOCIETY
Thai netizens show support to Chinese public's boycott of, brands over Xinjiang cotton ban after experiencing similar Western campaign
Published: Mar 29, 2021 06:52 PM
This photo taken on July 9, 2020 shows a macaque climbing a palm tree to knock down coconuts for people to collect in Berapea village near Narathiwat in southern Thailand. Animal rights campaigner PETA released videos in early July of monkey slaves picking coconuts in Thailand, which led several British retailers to ban the products. Thai coconut farmers have denied mistreating the macaques. Photo: AFP

This photo taken on July 9, 2020 shows a macaque climbing a palm tree to knock down coconuts for people to collect in Berapea village near Narathiwat in southern Thailand. Animal rights campaigner PETA released videos in early July of monkey "slaves" picking coconuts in Thailand, which led several British retailers to ban the products. Thai coconut farmers have denied mistreating the macaques. Photo: AFP

Chinese customers' boycott of foreign brands over their Xinjiang cotton ban have won understanding and support from some Thai netizens who said that they were also victims of disinformation and smearing by the West over alleged monkey abuse in coconut harvesting in the country. 

Experts and observers said that fabricating lies about the human or animal rights situations in other countries is a typical method employed by Western countries to impose political and economic pressure on countries for their own interests. 

As the world witnesses Chinese customers' ongoing spontaneous boycott in response to the Western media's false reports and the multinational companies' proactive but misleading statements on human rights affairs in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, people from many countries and regions, especially those who had experienced the same tricks from the West, showed their support for the Chinese customers. 

Some Thai netizens said they related to the Chinese, as they saw a similarity between Western retailers' decision to drop Thai coconut products over allegations of forced monkey labor and Western apparel brands' refusal to source cotton from Xinjiang over the so-called coerced labor of Uygurs. 

"That's how bullies should be treated!" said a Thai Facebook user who expressed support for the boycott in China, saying that Thai people are still not done yet with the West's accusation that the country "uses monkeys to harvest coconuts."

A Thai national who lived and studied in Beijing and returned to Thailand for work told the Global Times on condition of anonymity on Monday that the use of monkeys to collect coconuts could be seen only in the country's tourism sector now, and the practice doesn't exist in the actual industry any more. 

She called Western hyping of the issue a major misunderstanding that was based on ill-intent and deliberate editing of old images. 

We are all common victims of the West's tricks of weaponizing those seemingly righteous propositions on human rights and animal welfare, she said. 

In July 2020, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal protection organization in the US, accused the Thai coconut industry of animal cruelty by training monkeys to climb high coconut trees for harvesting. The organization called for a boycott of Thai coconut products such as coconut water and coconut oil. 

The Thai government rejected PETA's allegations and declared that using monkeys to harvest coconuts for commercial products "is almost non-existent" in Thailand, and the practice was mostly a tourist attraction and the animals are not harmed. Coconut farmers now have tools and methods to pick coconuts that are more efficient and profitable, reported AP. 

However, many retailers, such as Costco, still joined the boycott and removed the Thai coconut products from their shelves. 

In China's case, Xinjiang was accused of persecuting and recruiting Uygurs for "forced labor" in picking cotton, but the data from Xinjiang's agricultural department showed that 70 percent of cotton in Xinjiang was mechanically picked in 2020. Using "forced labor" to pick cotton does not exist in the region at all, the Chinese Foreign Minister said. 

The hyping of Xinjiang cotton production in China and monkeys collecting coconuts in Thailand are all Western smearing moves, Gu Xiaosong, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

Gu remarked that the West has long dominated the mass media and knows how to wantonly swing the stick of human rights to smear and attack others, and some follow them blindly without conducting actual investigations.   

Observers also noted that it was ridiculous for the West to continue to attack Asian countries with obsolete bias just as they did in the monkey labor issue with Thailand, and still turn a blind eye over the highly mechanized cotton industry in Xinjiang.

The united action of the Chinese people, including those of celebrities who cut ties with these brands, in the boycott campaign was also recognized by some Thai netizens. 

"They [Chinese people] are united. Their celebrities and businesses did not back off due to fear of financial losses [brought by contract termination]," read another comment from a Thai netizen. 


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