Cotton industry body finds no instances of 'forced labor' in Xinjiang

The China branch of Better Cotton Initiative, an industry trade body, on Friday reiterated it has found no forced labor in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Strictly following its working principles, the Switzerland-based organization's office in Shanghai has found "not a single case of forced labor" in second-party credibility audits and third-party verifications in Xinjiang since 2012, the office said in a statement.

"All BCI staff in China firmly support the sustainable development of China's cotton industry," it said, adding it aims to bring positive changes to the labor environment and socioeconomic development in cotton-producing areas via its cooperation with partners.

The BCI Shanghai office will keep communicating with its managing partners in Xinjiang to jointly promote the sustainable development of the supply chain, it said.

The branch also called for concerted efforts from its members and other stakeholders in China to support Chinese authorities in drafting standards for the sustainable development of China's cotton industry.

The statement came after the Chinese public voiced outrage upon finding out some big international retail brands, including H&M and Nike, have chosen not to source cotton from the region over "forced labor" concerns based on false information. The companies involved are all BCI members.

On March 30 last year, the BCI announced it would suspend cooperation with licensed farmers in Xinjiang during the 2020-21 cotton season over allegations of forced labor in the region.

The BCI's office in Shanghai, however, issued a statement on March 1 this year, in response to inquiries about the situation in the region, saying that it had not found any forced labor in Xinjiang.