Fashion companies against Xinjiang cotton ban stand firm following UN report | News Eco-business

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The report added that the so-called vocational schools in China have been accompanied by allegations of arbitrary detention, torture, forced sterilization and rape, but are widely treated as detention centers. The details corroborate with findings from past newspapers and rights groups.

As details of such violations have emerged in recent years, some brands have pledged to avoid sourcing cotton from Xinjiang, although others have said they will instead rely on more careful inspections.

In response to questions, Ryohin Keikaku, maker of Muji clothing and home products, said it conducts annual third-party audits of the cotton it uses, and repeated its statement that there had been no “material violations” so far. last year. A spokesman said that if such violations are found, the company will cease business relations.

Muji remains one of the biggest brands outside of China that does not shy away from Xinjiang cotton, and some of its clothing labels clearly label the materials as coming from the region.

Most of Muji’s foreign customers are Chinese. Of the brand’s more than 600 stores outside its home country of Japan, more than 270 are located in China.

In 2020, think tank Australia’s Strategic Policy Institute, Mujin, linked more than 80 brands globally with suppliers who are part of a labor transfer scheme in the Xinjiang region.

German clothing brand Hugo Boss told EcoBusiness that it does not source “ready-to-wear from China’s Xinjiang region” and does not accept forced labor or modern slavery.

Last year, Hugo Boss’s Chinese branch announced on social media that it would support Xinjiang cotton by buying it. The company later issued a statement saying the post was unauthorized and that it does not buy goods from “direct suppliers” in Xinjiang.

A Hugo Boss spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the company would consider a blanket ban on cotton and materials from Xinjiang in response to the UN report.

Fila from Korea and Asics from Japan did not respond to inquiries. Neither company has policies in place to ban materials from Xinjiang in their supply chains, and neither has issued a statement in response to the UN report.

Businesses should conduct rigorous human rights risk assessments for all goods exported from China, not just Xinjiang.

Justin Nolan, Professor, University of New South Wales

Implementing a ban on Xinjiang cotton has proven challenging given the complexity of the commodity’s supply chain. Some researchers think there may be a concerted effort to hide records further by sending raw materials to middlemen in nearby countries.

Professor Justin Nolan, a human rights expert at the University of New South Wales, pointed out that according to the United Nations report, workers from Xinjiang may be forcibly relocated to factories in other parts of China. This makes it difficult for companies to avoid contact with forced labour.

The UN report said businesses should strengthen due diligence on human rights and report their findings. Firms in the security industry should consider whether their products could contribute to attacks in Xinjiang, he added.

“Businesses need to conduct rigorous human rights risk assessments for all goods exported from China, not just Xinjiang,” Nolan said.

“Until wider access and independent working conditions are ensured in Xinjiang, there is a risk that businesses will now have their supply chains contaminated by modern slavery,” she added.

End Uyghur Forced Labor, a network of civil society and business groups, said countries should ban the importation of Uyghur forced labor.

Joanna Ewart-James, executive director of the anti-slavery group Freedom United, a member of end Uyghur, said: “Given the record of rights abuses, this can only be achieved by ending business with companies linked to the Uyghur region and the forced labor system.” Forced labor.

The group added that the UN report itself showed that “credible due diligence is impossible” in the region.

In June, the United States began banning products involving Xinjiang groups it says contribute to forced labor. The ban has created restrictions on textiles and solar panels. He said Uyghur forced labor companies should no longer export goods banned from entering the United States.

Draw a flake

Overseas brands have previously sidelined Xinjiang labor and materials, angering Chinese consumers.

Swedish chain H&M grabbed headlines early last year when Chinese celebrities and e-commerce companies cut ties with the brand after vowing to end Xinjiang cotton production. The popular boycott led to a quarterly sales decline of more than 23 percent last May, and the brand was only listed on Tmall, China’s largest online marketplace, last month.

Other brands, such as Nike and Burberry, have also come under fire for their statements on Xinjiang.

The nonprofit Better Cotton Initiative, which ensures environmental and social standards in commodities, also found itself in hot water in 2020, with Xinjiang suspending its license in 2020 over allegations of abuse in the region. Last year, the group’s Shanghai office said it had found no evidence of forced labor in Xinjiang.

The Better Cotton Initiative had not responded to inquiries from EcoBusiness at the time of publication.

China responded by stating that it strongly opposes the release of the UN report. He reiterated his position that he was fighting “pervasive” terrorism and extremism in the Xinjiang region and that its occupation centers were not concentration camps.

In addition to cotton, Xinjiang is rich in energy resources such as coal, gas and lithium – a key mineral for electric vehicle batteries.

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