The Chinese BCI is challenging the headquarters of the organization, and claims Uyghurs are not subject to forced labor.
by Tahir Imin
The Shanghai Representative Office of Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) stated that it has never found a case of forced labor in “Xinjiang,” and will continue to communicate with its Xinjiang’s implementation partners.
It also said, “The Chinese team of the association also stated that it will actively support the formulation of China’s cotton sustainability standards by the relevant state departments, and contribute to the sustainable and healthy development of China’s cotton industry.”
This statement came out amidst a nationwide campaign by CCP to boycott the western companies that criticize Chinese policies on Uyghur forced labor. Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo are full of videos and images that mock and condemn the West and statements that support “Xinjiang Cotton.”
First of all, there is a common fear of being labeled as a traitor if any Chinese citizen supports Western government and companies when China is engaged in a conflict versus the latter ones. We have not seen many brave Chinese citizens in the last decades intervening in disputes between China and the West.
While we respect the integrity of the Chinese team of BCI, we need to look into the political pressure and public sentiment that the team is facing now.
The statement came from an ethnic Chinese who is still a Chinese citizen subject to Chinese law, which requires all Chinese citizens to follow the party line in public statements.
Furthermore, we can question the credibility of the report that the statement mentioned.
The western sanctions and China’s counter-sanctions happened in a very short time frame that barely allows the group to conduct an independent investigation and produce out a full report on the process and its labor component without depending on the sources provided by Chinese authorities.
While there are plenty of authentic reports, and investigations documented by independent research groups, the BCI Shanghai’s statement to deny the forced labor in the region makes us just think how much pressure the Chinese team of the group faces from the Chinese government.
BCI’s official stance on the subject is very important to safeguard its principle of defending the labor rights of all and advance human rights around the world.
The lives and rights of millions of helpless Uyghurs should matter to all who believe in the fundamental principles and values of humanity, and particularly to an organization devoted to promoting an ethical approach to labor.