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Chinese FM Spokesperson: 70% of Xinjiang Cotton Were Harvested Mechanically, There Is No "Forced Labor" in Xinjiang

2021-03-30

At a regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on 29 March, Spokesperson Zhao Lijian answered a question about the so-called forced labor in Xinjiang.

Journalist: After the Chinese people initiated a boycott against foreign companies that refuse to use Xinjiang cotton, a US State Department spokesperson said this is "state-led" and condemned it, while the White House Press Secretary called it "China's weaponizing of private companies' dependence on its markets to stifle free expression". I wonder if you have any comments on these remarks?

Zhao Lijian: I've taken note of the news. Some in the US are not only stigmatizing Xinjiang cotton in an attempt to undermine the interests of cotton growers in the region and China's overall economic interests, but also trying to pit the Chinese people against the government. How venomous!

As we've repeated so many times, there is no forced labor in Xinjiang. Cotton-picking is highly-paid work. Pickers all sign labor contracts with planters voluntarily through consultation on an equal footing. There is no need whatsoever for "forced labor".

Besides, according to data from Xinjiang's agricultural sector, 70% of all cotton were harvested mechanically instead of manually in 2020. I've also got to know about an APP through which planters can order mechanical cotton-pickers, a true symbol of the Internet+ era in cotton harvest. And yet, a handful of countries and individuals are still weaving stories about "forced labor". Do they mean "forced machinery labor"?

I noticed the statement released by the BCI representative office in Shanghai which said that "Since 2012, the Xinjiang project site has performed second-party credibility audits and third-party verifications over the years, and has never found a single case related to incidents of forced labor." We cannot help but wonder, since no case of forced labor was found, how was the conclusion of "forced labor" reached? Why not show your evidence?!

Some accuse the Chinese government of fanning nationalism and calling for a boycott. Certain foreign brands refuse to use Xinjiang cotton based merely on lies. This negative act itself is more than enough to trigger indignation among the public. There is no need whatsoever for any "state-led" campaign. The smears and rumors inspire patriotism better than anything.

The US falsely implies that the Chinese government is engaging in backstage manipulation. This reminds me of the video my colleague played here last week, showing remarks by Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired US Army Colonel at the Ron Paul Institute in August 2018. It exposed the shocking conspiracy of the US and the West on Xinjiang, which is to destabilize Xinjiang and contain China's development. The cotton smears are just part of the bigger plot.

Coming back to Xinjiang cotton, I'd like to stress the importance of respect in doing business. Certain retailers want to smear and attack China and hurt Chinese interests while making profits in the Chinese market. There is no way to get away with this. The Chinese market is always open. We welcome foreign companies to operate and invest in China with a sound business environment. We hope they will comply with laws and regulations, refuse to be weaponized by certain political forces, and refrain from testing public opinion in China.

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