UK Court Hears Demands To Ban Xinjiang Cotton

Photo: lawgazette

The Facts

  • Germany-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and the nonprofit Global Legal Action Network are taking the UK government to court to challenge its failure to block the import of cotton products allegedly associated with forced labor and other abuses in China's Xinjiang region.

  • Tuesday's hearing at the High Court in London is believed to be the first time a foreign court has heard legal arguments from the Uyghurs over the issue of alleged forced labor in Xinjiang, which is estimated to produce one-fifth of the world's cotton.

The Spin

Anti-China narrative

While the UK may have imposed fines for companies operating in China that fail to prove their products aren't linked to slavery, this isn't enough to punish Beijing for its human rights abuses. Britain should've followed the US and banned all imports of cotton from Xinjiang, as there's plenty of evidence that Uyghurs are being forced to pick the plant under slave-like conditions.

Pro-China narrative

Xinjiang cotton field operations have become highly mechanized, with no signs of forced labor. Nevertheless, the West continues to put forth baseless claims in an attempt to smear Beijing. Cotton-related sanctions will only damage the global cotton industry. If anyone is forcing and exploiting labor in Xinjiang, it's the West with their capitalist system of globalization.

Nerd narrative

There is a 20% chance that the UN will open an investigation or otherwise intervene on the issue of Xinjiang internment camps before 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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