LONDON – The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) has announced it will cease all field-level activities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China with immediate effect, including capacity building and data monitoring and reporting. The move, said the cotton standard, is in response to “sustained allegations of forced labour and other human rights abuses” in the region which have “contributed to an increasingly untenable operating environment.” [Editor’s Note: Allegations?]
In March 2020, BCI suspended licensing and assurance activities in the XUAR, and as a result, there is no new licensed Better Cotton coming from the region. “Until circumstances change, we will focus our efforts in China in the eastern provinces where BCI has existing programmes: Hubei, Hebei, Shandong and Gansu,” BCI said in a statement.
Alan McClay, BCI’s CEO, said BCI will “re-evaluate our engagement in the XUAR when the operating environment permits.”
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