HK apparel maker Esquel sues US for blacklisting subsidiary over false Xinjiang 'forced labor' accusation
Published: Jul 07, 2021 12:47 PM
Modern agriculture gaining ground in Xinjiang's cotton fields

Modern agriculture gaining ground in Xinjiang's cotton fields

Chinese companies start to fight back against the US' mounting lies over the "forced labor" in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, with Hong Kong-based leading textile and apparel manufacturer Esquel Group on Tuesday launching the first lawsuit against the US Department of Commerce over the erroneous inclusion of its subsidiary on US Entity List.

The company said in a statement on its website that it has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia seeking relief from the economic and reputational harms caused by the placement of its subsidiary - Changji Esquel Textile Co Ltd - on the US Entity List.

Esquel said that it has no choice but to take legal action to end "the devastating ongoing reputational and commercial damage" resulting from this erroneous designation, as its continued outreach with the US Commerce Department provided meaningful response or evidence from the US government that would support its inclusion on the list.

The listing falsely implicated Changji Esquel in using forced labor in the Xinjiang region, a conclusion that contradicts the facts, including audits by multiple world-class, third-party independent auditors using internationally recognized industry standards such as the SMETA standard, read the statement.

These audits involved site visits to facilities in the region and independent interviews with randomly selected Uygur workers. In every instance, the audits found no evidence of forced labor or coercion. Further, the Changji Esquel facility is highly automated and technologically advanced, and it requires highly skilled workers - the opposite of a business model reliant on underpaid labor, it continued.

"The use of forced labor or coercive practices is completely contrary to our founding principles and the business we have operated for more than 40 years," said Esquel Chairman and CEO Marjorie Yang.

"Esquel values and respects the dignity of all our people in Xinjiang and actively works to create an inclusive environment free from any kind of discrimination or intimidation. Esquel has never used forced or coerced labor," Yang stressed in the statement.

James Tysse, a partner at Akin Gump LLP when questioned about the lawsuit, was quoted as saying in the statement that the US Department of Commerce provided no evidence to support its erroneous decision and acted far beyond its limited legal authority.

Yang said, "It is our continued hope that the Department of Commerce will voluntarily address what is clearly an error."