New 'forced labor' claims on NW China's Xinjiang are outdated tactic to smear China, hurt firms: experts
Published: May 18, 2023 08:20 PM
Xinjiang cotton Photo: VCG

Xinjiang cotton Photo: VCG

Rights groups have filed a new complaint in France against clothing giants in the latest attempt to hype alleged "forced labor" in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The claims are groundless and an outdated means to smear China, experts said.

Rights groups announced on Wednesday they had filed a new complaint in France against clothing giants including Uniqlo and Zara owner Inditex for allegedly profiting from so-called forced labor in Xinjiang, the Voice of America reported on Wednesday.

They accused Uniqlo France, a subsidiary of Fast Retailing, along with Inditex, the Spanish owner of Zara, the French fashion group SMCP, and footwear manufacturer Skechers of marketing products that were manufactured at least in part at factories subjected to so-called forced labor, according to rights groups.

The companies denied using forced labor in their supply chains.

Inditex told the Global Times in an emailed reply on Thursday that it has publicly said on several occasions that these accusations are unfounded.

Analysts said the latest complaint, like previous ones, is baseless as it has failed to find one case to prove the forced labor allegation.

Some human rights organizations believe that as long as products are made in Xinjiang, they involve so-called forced labor. Yet no such case has been proven legally defensible so far, Wang Jian, an expert at the Institute of China's Borderland Studies at Zhejiang Normal University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

It is hoped that France's judiciary system will make a corresponding judgment based on the facts instead of political hype, Wang said.

Inditex said that the latest accusations were unfounded. SMCP said it had "already denied with the greatest firmness these accusations," according to the VOA report.

"The organizations are chasing a ghost," Wang said.

For enterprises, this kind of groundless claim will increase their operating costs to prove their innocence, add to their logistics and supply chain costs, and consumers will finally pay the bill, Wang added.

China has refuted the disinformation related to so-called forced labor in Xinjiang fabricated by some countries.

Some countries have been manipulating Xinjiang-related issues and fabricating disinformation about "forced labor" in Xinjiang. Essentially they are seeking to undermine the prosperity and stability of Xinjiang and contain China's development and revitalization under the pretext of human rights, said China's top diplomat Wang Yi in July 2022.

Global Times