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UK tightens rules on China-picked cotton

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

13 Jan 2021


The origin of Chinese cotton has never been more relevant as the world distances itself from supply chains with links to Uighur-picked cotton in the Xinjiang region.

This week Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs exports will be monitored to ensure goods are not being used in camps where Uighur are among minorities being held.

The BBC said UK firms above a certain size must show they are trying to avoid using slavery in their supply chains.

There will be new guidance for firms and public sector organisations about the risks of trading with Xinjiang where, Mr Raab said, there is growing evidence of more than a million Uighurs and other minorities being held in forced labour camps. Details of potential fines for not abiding by new rules have not yet been released.

Header 2Campaigners say more could be done

“The government has missed an opportunity to guide a meaningful shift away from exploitation and forced labour wherever it occurs,” Joanna Ewart-James, executive director of the anti-slavery organisation Freedom United told Reuters.

“Reporting requirements are not enough to hold companies accountable - we need business and government to be held liable for rights abuses in their supply chains and victims should be able to seek redress,” she added.

Last month the BBC revealed new evidence that China is forcing hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other minorities into hard, manual labour in the cotton fields of Xinjiang.

The report increased pressure on clothing retailers to remove Xinjiang cotton from their supply chains.

Article source BBC; image: Xinjiang in China via Wikimedia Commons