Foreign enterprises welcomed to visit Xinjiang cotton fields, textile companies to ‘make wise choice’
Published: Mar 29, 2021 10:54 PM
Xinjiang cotton Photo: VCG

Xinjiang cotton Photo: VCG

Foreign enterprises are welcomed to visit local Xinjiang cotton producing areas and textile companies, talk to cotton growers to make a wise choice, the local Xinjiang government said on Monday, while denouncing Western countries putting "genocide" label on Xinjiang as the "biggest case of a frame-up in human history."

While Xinjiang reiterated its open attitude, some Western media have been hyping up so-called "unfettered access" of the UN officials to the region amid reports that China and the UN are in communication regarding UN officials' visit to Xinjiang.

Chinese analysts said any visit by officials from UN or other nations to Xinjiang should be based on respecting China's sovereignty and the hype was pure political manipulation to pressure China, and the UN should not be affected by it.

Elijan Anayat, spokesperson of Xinjiang regional government, refuted "forced labor" rumors surrounding Xinjiang's cotton industry at a press conference on Monday, saying that anti-China forces in the West fabricated the rumor aiming to attack Xinjiang's textile industry, depriving workers of all ethnic groups of their employment rights and destroying their happy lives.

The consequences for certain Western companies such as H&M and Nike blindly making a decision to boycott Xinjiang cotton was losing the Chinese market, their Chinese customers and affecting their overall reputation, Elijan Anayat said, "We Chinese people are reasonable. Those companies boycott Xinjiang cotton, naturally we don't want to buy your products."

Over the past few days, Western brands like H&M, Nike and Adidas have been facing strong social media boycott in China, and more than 30 Chinese celebrities including Wang Yibo, Zhang Yixing, and Dilireba who is from Xinjiang, have terminated contracts with these brands to show support for cotton products from Xinjiang. 

Companies like H&M have been influenced by rumors seeking to politicize its economic behavior, and the EU, the US, UK and Canada sanctioned Chinese individuals and entities also based on such rumors, Xu Guixiang, spokesperson of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government, said at Monday's media briefing. 

Some anti-China forces in the EU, the US, UK and Canada maliciously used rumors such as "concentration camps," "mass surveillance," "forced labor," and "compulsory sterilization," to smear Xinjiang's governance, attempting to portray Xinjiang's policies as genocide, which is a grave defiance of international law and the norms governing international relations, running counter to the international community's efforts to punish the crime of genocide and is the biggest case of a frame-up in human history, Xu said. 

Xu said as a multinational company, H&M should have realized that when the big stick of sanctions from some Western countries is wielded at other countries, it will also hit themselves. 

"We hope that more companies will sharpen their eyes and distinguish right from wrong," Xu said. 

"Today's China is not the China of 1840, and the era when the Chinese people were subjected to arbitrary bullying by Western powers has long gone. The entire Chinese people, including the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, cannot be trifled with," Xu said. 

The regional government welcomes foreign enterprises to visit local textile firms and hit back at the "forced labor" and "genocide" smear with statistics, facts and personal experiences of local textile company workers at Monday's media briefing. 

According to data released by Xinjiang's agricultural department in 2020, about 70 percent of cotton locally grown was mechanically picked. 

Almire Tursun, an employee of a textile firm in Kuqa in Aksu prefecture, told reporters at the press conference that she applied for a job and signed the contract with the company in April 2020, earning a monthly salary of 4,800 yuan ($732). 

The company provides her a free dormitory with internet service and other necessities and she spends weekends like every other young girl: shopping, watching movies and travelling. 

"Those overseas forces who concocted the 'forced labor' claim have never visited our company, and know nothing about our true situation," she said. 

"What they claim is nonsense, what they want is to leave us with no work, no food, what they did was very shameful and hateful," she said. 

Apart from anti-China forces, some Western media outlets also helped spread the rumors with their biased reports. 

Xu cited an example of journalists from a foreign broadcasting company who only skirted around the outside of a cotton processing factory in Xinjiang. But they claimed in their report that China was forcing tens of thousands of different ethnic minorities to engage in hard manual labor, and journalists from the same media outlet filmed without the consent of the subjects while interviewing a clothing company in the region. They even mistaken company employees for local government officials claiming they were obstructed by officials.  

Xu stressed that Xinjiang is open and welcomes foreign journalists, but firmly opposes those who carry out "investigations" with the presumption of guilt under the pretext of so-called human rights investigation, with the aim to disrupt the stable development of Xinjiang and interfering in China's internal affairs. 

Cotton growing area and output in Xinjiang 2016-20 Graphics: GT

Cotton growing area and output in Xinjiang 2016-20 Graphics: GT

Political manipulation 

Not just the regional government, the Chinese central government also repeatedly expressed its open attitude towards the visit of the High Commissioner for UN Human Rights as well as officials from other Western countries to Xinjiang. 

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that China has extended an invitation long ago to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the two sides are in communication. 

But Zhao stressed that the purpose of the visit is to strengthen communication and cooperation, rather than "investigations" with the presumption of guilt. 

"We also oppose using this issue for political manipulation to put pressure on China," Zhao said. 

Zhao's remarks came after reports that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in an interview with Canada's CBC on Sunday that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet's visit "is being negotiated at the present moment" with Chinese authorities. 

"And I hope that they will reach an agreement soon and that the human rights commissioner will be able to visit China without restrictions or limitations," Guterres said, according to Reuters. 

Mao Junxiang, executive director and professor at the Human Rights Studies Center at Central South University, told the Global Times on Monday that the UN's visit to any country should be based on the consent of the host country and respecting the country's sovereignty. 

He said that the Chinese authorities and the UN should discuss the mission of the visit. But Western media have been hyping up so-called "unfettered access" to Xinjiang, which analysts called pure political manipulation that tries to pressure the UN and China and sour China's cooperation with the High Commissioner.

Chinese analysts said the UN should stand up against pressure from certain Western countries, not declare any political position in its remarks and adhere to the UN Charter. 

Zhu Ying, deputy director of the National Human Rights Education and Training Base of Southwest University of Political Science and Law told the Global Times that the UN officials' visit to China has not been finalized as it requires much communication between the two sides on the schedule and the procedure of the visit, and if the visit plans to involve international experts, the selection of the experts also takes time.