Chinese FM shrugs off ‘state-led’ accusations on boycott
Published: Mar 29, 2021 07:17 PM
Zhao Lijian

Zhao Lijian

Chinese foreign ministry on Monday shrugged off accusations that Chinese public's boycott of some West brands over Xinjiang cotton was "state-led," saying the public was infuriated at some foreign firms that decided to reject Xinjiang cotton based on nothing but lies. 

Some people in the US not only throw mud at Xinjiang cotton, damaging the cotton industry in Xinjiang and even China's economic interests as a whole, but even want to isolate the Chinese government from public opinion, "which shows its evil purpose," said foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian at a Monday press conference.

Zhao made the remarks after the spokespersons of the White House and US Department of State made comments on Xinjiang cotton on Friday, accusing the Chinese government of leading a "state-led" social media campaign against foreign companies "for their decision to avoid inputs using Xinjiang cotton because of forced labor." 

The White House press secretary called on the international community to "oppose China's weaponizing of private companies' dependence on its market to stifle free expression and inhibit ethical business practices."

"We mentioned more than once that there's no so-called 'forced labor' in Xinjiang," said Zhao, noting that picking cotton brings high profits, and Xinjiang's cotton-pickers signed labor contract with cotton planters based on the principal of equality, consensus and negotiation, which means there is no "forced labor."

Statistics from Xinjiang's agricultural department show that the mechanical harvesting rate of cotton in the region reached 70 percent in 2020, according to Zhao, who further explained that cotton planters can order machine picking services via mobile phone applications. "At this time, a small number of countries and individuals are fabricating the so-called 'forced labor' story, does that mean we force the machines to work?"

The Shanghai office of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) submitted several reports to the Switzerland-registered BCI head office, claiming that "no forced labor" related issues were found.

Citing this, Zhao asked how BCI head office had come to the conclusion of "forced labor."

Zhao said that the US smearing of China reminds him of the video of Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired US Army Colonel and former chief of staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, giving a speech in August 2018. 

If the CIA wanted to destabilize China, the best way would be to form unrest, and join with Uygurs in putting pressure on China internally rather than from outside, the video showed Wilkerson saying.

Zhao continued by warning foreign companies that respecting others is important in doing business. There's no such thing as earning Chinese consumers' money while attacking China and sabotaging China's interests, Zhao said.

He also noted that China welcomes foreign companies to do business, but they should not become tools of certain political forces, or challenge China's public opinion. 

Global Times

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