China's ratification of intl forced labor conventions has little to do with Western pressure: expert
Published: Apr 21, 2022 10:19 PM
An unmanned seeding and lamination machine sows cotton in Kuqa?County, Northwest China's?Xinjiang?Uyghur Autonomous Region on March 26, 2021. Photo:VCG

An unmanned seeding and lamination machine sows cotton in Kuqa?County, Northwest China's?Xinjiang?Uyghur Autonomous Region on March 26, 2021. Photo:VCG

China has ratified two international conventions against forced labor, the International Labour Organization's Forced Labour Convention, 1930 and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957. Analysts said that those who use the event to hype forced labor allegations in China's Xinjiang region purposely turn a blind eye to China's decades-long preparations to join the conventions. 

The decision to ratify the two international conventions was announced on Wednesday as the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) concluded its 34th session in Beijing. 

The Chinese government has attached great importance to the protection of workers' interests and has held a responsible attitude toward ratifying international conventions on workers' rights, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry told a press conference on Thursday. 

Wang noted that the previous international conventions on workers that China had ratified have been implemented. China has always opposed forced labor and the ratification of the two conventions once again showcased the Chinese government's firm stance. 

In recent days, some Western media have paid close attention to the ratification of the two international conventions in China, linking the event to UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet's scheduled visit to China's Xinjiang region and hyped forced labor allegations in the region. 

At a press conference on March 9, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that China and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights are working on detailed arrangements for Bachelet's visit to China. He also reiterated China's consistent stance on opposing certain countries' use of this event for political manipulation.

The time for China to ratify the two conventions coincides with Bachelet's visit but is not right to say the ratification is for the UN human rights chief's visit to China since for the past decade, China has been considering signing the conventions and has made full preparations on laws, policies and practices, Cao Yan, a professor from the Research Center for Human Rights at the Northwest University of Political Science and Law and also an expert on labor laws, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

According to a media report from news outlet, in February 2007, China had a high-level meeting with the International Labor Organization on discussing China's ratification of the Forced Labour Convention 1930. 

Having a complete domestic legal system is the premise of joining in and better implementing any international convention. For more than 10 years, China has worked hard to improve its own laws on protecting labor rights. For example, China now has a Labor Law, Labor Contract Law, and a Law on Mediation and Arbitration of Labor Disputes, Cao said. 

Some of China's laws made in the 1950s and 1960s adopted higher standards on protecting women and minority groups than international conventions. However, the Cold War had hindered China's pace in joining the two conventions, Zhu Ying, a professor from the Baize Institute at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times.

Zhu noted that some Western media, anti-China forces and NGOs on human rights are using Bachelet's visit and all possible topics to hype forced labor allegations against China. Ratifying the international conventions can be regarded as a response of China, that is to say we have nothing like forced labor and we are transparent and open to the outside world, Zhu noted. 

Cao also refuted Western media's hype of forced labor allegations in China's Xinjiang region, noting that China not only has national laws but also regional regulations to protect workers' rights. Joining the two international conventions will help to counter the US' wanton long-arm jurisdiction of imposing sanctions, citing untenable accusations.

Ratifying the conventions will also help decrease barriers on labor use to promote international cooperation on trade, Cao noted.