The dark origins of the cheap Chinese-made clothing boom

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Cotton and its textile derivatives are one of the primary industries linked to Uighur exploitation. More than 80% of the cotton grown in China comes from Xinjiang, accounting for about one-fifth of the cotton produced worldwide.

A coalition of nearly 200 human rights groups launched a worldwide campaign in 2020 demanding that companies stop profiting from the low costs involved in producing Uighur slaves from Xinjiang.

“Almost every major apparel brand and retailer selling cotton products is potentially implicated,” the Coalition stated when it launched the initiative.

“Right now, there is near certainty that any brand sourcing apparel, textiles, yarn or cotton from the Uighur Region is profiting from human rights violations, including forced labour, both in the Uighur Region and more broadly throughout China.”

Consequently, many large Western firms have stopped producing in China, and others, such as the well-known Swedish brand H&M, had to close most of its successful clothing stores located in mainland China following terrible harassment by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after it announced in 2021 that it was refusing to use Xinjiang cotton on the grounds of human rights abuses.

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