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BEIJING – Xinjiang, which produces almost a fifth of the world’s cotton, has been described as an ‘open air prison,’ in a new paper on political and economic risk in the western Chinese province. With global apparel retailers under growing scrutiny over cotton and apparel products sourced from Xinjiang, a Chinese region facing serious allegations of human rights abuses, the latest dispatch highlights the entrenched and chronic nature of forced and prison labour in local textile and cotton supply chains.

Many brands indirectly source cotton products from the Xinjiang region, however, the likes of H&M, adidas and Bestseller were extremely evasive and unhelpful when we recently approached them on the issue.

The author of this latest paper argues that soon, many or most products made in China that rely at least in part on low-skilled, labour-intensive manufacturing, “may contain elements of involuntary ethnic minority labor from Xinjiang.”

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