TEXAS – Organic cotton output from the troubled Chinese province of Xinjiang increased by 6.9 per cent according to new figures for the 2018/19 harvest year from Textile Exchange. The latest organic report from the US consultants shows that Xinjiang has now increased its share of China’s organic cotton production to 98.5 per cent based on the latest available data. This means that around one sixth of all global organic cotton was produced in Xinjiang – a region beset with allegations of forced labour, prison labour, child labour and serious human rights infringements.
Elsewhere, the figures from Textile Exchange show an overall increase in organic cotton output globally of 31 per cent, making this the second largest harvest on record after 2009/10.
Xinjiang is currently facing economic sanctions and a potential global boycott due to a growing body of evidence regarding the abuse of the rights of the Muslim Uyghur minority. Allegations have centred on the mass detention of Uyghurs in re-education camps, as the Beijing regime attempts to stamp out Uyghur separatism.
In this year’s organic cotton report, Textile Exchange has moved to distance itself from forced labour issues in Xinjiang and denied the inference that it makes recommendations for sourcing suggestions.
It says: “Textile Exchange is concerned about the disturbing reports of forced labour in the Xinjiang region of China, where most of China’s organic cotton is grown, as well as reports of forced and child labour in other parts of the world that have occurred over the past several years.
“Textile Exchange does not perform certification work itself, provide on-the-ground program work regarding the production of organic cotton or any other fibre in any country, nor make recommendations for preferred sourcing locations.”
Recently, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp, as well as two officials connected with it. The XPCC created – and oversees – the XUAR’s cotton industry using forced labour and is a key organisation in the Chinese state’s control over the region and repression of the Muslim population.
The Textile Exchange organic cotton report is available as a download on its website. Name and contact details need to be inserted to download the report.
You can read our essay on XPCC HERE.