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Ban US cotton imports from Xinjiang, say human rights campaigners

Human rights campaigners are calling on US authorities to ban all imports of cotton from the Chinese province of Xinjiang after allegations of widespread forced labour. Two identical petitions, delivered today to US Custom and Border Protection, cite “substantial evidence” that the Uighur community and other minority groups are being press-ganged into working in the region’s cotton fields... China is the largest cotton producer in the world, with 84% of its cotton coming from Xinjiang.

... “So many international brands rely on cotton from this region that it would be a massive problem for China were the US to enforce a ban,” says Dearbhla Minogue, legal officer for the Global Legal Action Network (Glan), co-sponsor of one of the petitions... In a separate attempt to put pressure on the UK government, the World Uighur Congress is preparing to launch a nationwide campaign... call[ing] for a public boycott of any products produced by Uighur forced labour or by companies facilitating Uighur suppression. It will also call on companies importing cotton and other goods from Xinjiang to investigate their supply chains... In July, a coalition of more than 180 campaign groups issued a similar “call to action” to leading high-street brands, demanding that they guarantee their supply chains are not directly or indirectly linked to abuses of Uighurs or other persecuted minorities in China.

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