A report released last week estimated that more than half a million Uighur Muslims are being forced to pick cotton in Xinjiang, northwest China. Xinjiang produces 85 percent of the Chinese and 20 percent of the world’s cotton. In the 14. A document released on December 31 states that it is also vital to the manufacture of garments across Asia.
Franck Riester, France’s junior trade minister, told Le Monde China that he had failed to meet « sufficient obligations » to international treaties.
He said the nation has failed to ratify the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention prohibiting forced labor and has identified it as a deal breaker.
« We cannot make investments in China easier if we do not commit ourselves to the abolition of forced labor, » said Riester, referring to the support of other European countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands.
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« Trade agreements also serve as levers to advance social problems and to combat forced labor, especially among the Uyghurs. ’’
This casts a shadow over the EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI), which is about to be concluded in Brussels.
The CAI would theoretically benefit Europe by making it easier for companies to invest in China.
Another point of contention, according to Politico, is the fear of insufficient investment protection for EU companies in China.
Talks between EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis and the Chinese deputy prime minister Liu Er were postponed this week due to opposition from European nations.
The report, citing EU sources, states: “China wants to invest in European nuclear power plants and use Chinese technology in this area. ”
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In his book “Let us dream: The way to a better future”, Pope Francis wrote: “I often think of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi. ”
This led to a response from Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, at a briefing in November.
Dr. Adrian Zenz, a senior employee of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, told the BBC: “For the first time we have evidence of Uighur forced labor not only in the making, in the making of clothing, it is directly about the selection of cotton , and I think this is such a game changer.
« If you are interested in ethical sourcing, you have to look at Xinjiang, which accounts for 85 percent of Chinese cotton and 20 percent of the world’s cotton, and say, » We can no longer do this. ’”
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