Chinese-sponsored forced labor in Xinjiang requires comprehensive policy response

The scale of Chinese-sponsored forced labor in Xinjiang requires a comprehensive policy response. Adrian Zenz, Senior Researcher and Director of China Studies, writing in the Jamestown Foundation, said the rebuttable presumption set out in the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) enacted by the United States, which states that all goods products in Xinjiang are potentially contaminated with forced labor unless proven otherwise, is one of the only effective solutions to the region’s problem of forced labor.

As a compromise, governments could limit the rebuttable presumption to products produced with low-skilled and labor-intensive manufacturing, particularly in sectors such as cotton, textile and garment production, tomato processing, polysilicon and related fields. However, Xinjiang’s pursuit of “high-quality development” and intensified vocational training means that sectors requiring higher skill levels will be increasingly exposed to coercive labor in the future.

The implications of coercive labor tendencies are threefold. First, the prevalence of coercive forms of work placement in Xinjiang is pervasive and large-scale. With intensified vocational training and continued state-led economic development efforts, coercive labor is likely to expand from predominantly low-skilled industrial sectors to increasingly high-skilled industrial sectors. . Second, the systemic nature of coercive labor in Xinjiang is the product of political goals that can only be achieved by transferring millions of Uyghur workers from rural to industrial livelihoods, breaking up traditional communities and transferring ethnic minorities to areas with a Han majority.

Third, Xinjiang’s recent shift from heavy mobilization to more institutionalized and monitored forms of work placement management has further reduced the availability of on-the-ground propaganda and state media reporting. This changing situation of evidence has made research much more difficult, if not impossible. These three trends and developments point to the same political involvement, rather than placing the responsibility for combating Xinjiang-related coercive labor on individual companies.

Governments must create a rebuttable presumption that all products originating in Xinjiang, especially those produced with low-skilled, labor-intensive manufacturing (or related agricultural harvesting and processing), are labor tainted coercive, Zenz said. In mid-2019, the first efforts to systematically research and conceptualize state-sponsored forced labor systems in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) took place, the Journal of Political Risk reported.

In addition to general evidence of coercive labor placements in labor-intensive manufacturing, researchers have uncovered evidence of coercive labor transfers for specific economic sectors such as picking cotton and tomatoes, as well as producing polysilicon for solar panels, the Jamestown Foundation reported. In addition to seeking cultural assimilation and greater state control, Beijing also pursues labor transfers in order to change the ethnic structures of the population.

The Nankai Report, a crucial Chinese research paper outlining the safe transfer of Uyghurs to other provinces, states that labor transfers help “reduce the Uyghur population density in Xinjiang”. Based on the Nankai report, an independent legal analysis concluded that the labor transfers from Xinjiang meet the criteria for the crimes against humanity of forcible transfer and persecution as defined by the International Criminal Court, reported the Jamestown Foundation.

Xinjiang’s continued social stability hinges on ensuring that ethnic minority citizens remain in state-controlled, economically productive factories. Therefore, the region’s coercive labor systems remain necessary for the continued achievement and consolidation of political goals, Zenz said. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)