China to Ratify Labor Act Among Political Pressure
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China is set to ratify the Forced Labour Convention and Abolition of Forced Labor Convention on Wednesday. This comes as the country is being scrutinized over its treatment of the Uyghur ethnic minority.
The United States Department of Justice released a report entitled [the] Treatment of the Uyghur Ethnic Group in the People’s Republic of China as early as March 2015, in which the Uyghur people are defined as “identifiable by their Islamic religion, cultural heritage, traditional clothing, diet, language, and appearance.” It goes further into describing the violent clashes in political and ethnic tensions involving Uygurs outside of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in the northwestern region of China.
Despite China’s supposed protections of freedom for its citizens, which includes the Uyghur people there are disparities including the following:
- Members of the Communist Party of China and the employees on the state payroll are not to wear religious attire that includes Islamic headscarves or practice fasting during Ramadan.
- Authorities have trained female religious specialists, known as büwi, in how to educate Muslim women to oppose illegal religious activities and dress in “modern” fashion, without wearing jilbabs or covering their faces.
In June of last year, the BBC reported on the issue of China detaining more than one million Uyghurs against their will and placing them in “re-education camps,” and sentenced hundreds of thousands to prison terms.
Allegations have been brought forth by several countries, including the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands of China committing genocide which is defined by the United Nations that was enacted in December 1948 in response to the genocide of the Jewish people in Germany during World War II.
It is defined as “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” It includes killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
In December of 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act that bars the importation of products made from forced labor in the XUAR, significantly impacting supply chains. This comes from the U.S. Department of State declaring that the repression of the Uyghurs is genocide and crimes against humanity.
The ILO said in a statement, “The elimination of forced labor is a fundamental principle and right at work. As such, ratification of these fundamental Conventions by China would be highly significant.”
Business of Fashion reported that supply chain intermediaries are ‘laundries’ banned cotton from Xinjiang. It produced 20 percent of the world’s cotton. Raw materials are being exported from the region to manufacturers in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Vietnam, where a lot of fashion manufacturing is conducted.
Kering has denounced the use of forced labor in a statement that read, “If Kering knew about any forced labor in its supply chain, the group would immediately take steps to end the relationship with that supplies. Kering doesn’t directly buy cotton or other raw materials, but rather finished products like fabrics.”
Nike said it doesn’t use any textiles or spun yarn from Xinjiang. LVM declined to say how much of their material comes from China or Xinjiang. They stated, however, that the majority of their cotton comes from India, the US, Egypt, and Turkey in order to produce Louis Vuitton’s “Neverfull,” the Dior book totes, and Givenchy t-shirts.