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Coercive Labor in Xinjiang
Labor Transfer and the Mobilization of Ethnic Minorities to Pick Cotton

Adrian Zenz | 14 Dec 2020 | Unknown
Newlines Institute - China cotton

New evidence from Chinese government documents and media reports shows that hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority laborers in Xinjiang are being forced to pick cotton by hand through a coercive state-mandated labor transfer and “poverty alleviation” scheme, with potentially drastic consequences for global supply chains. Xinjiang produces 85 percent of China’s and 20 percent of the world’s cotton. Chinese cotton products, in turn, constitute an important basis for garment production in numerous other Asian countries. Previously, evidence for forced labor in Xinjiang pertained only to low-skilled manufacturing, including the production of textiles and apparel. This report provides new evidence for coercion specifically related to cotton picking. These findings have much wider implications, affecting all supply chains that involve Xinjiang cotton as a raw material. On Dec. 2, 2020, the United States placed a Withhold Release Order on cotton produced by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. However, this entity only produces 33 percent of Xinjiang’s cotton and only 0.4 percent of its highest-quality long-staple cotton. This report provides evidence for coercive labor related to all cotton produced in Xinjiang.

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