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Forced labour in UK value chains – Nusrat Ghani responds to BBC report on labour in China’s Xinjiang cotton fields

15 December 2020

Nusrat Ghani MP, Conservative MP for Wealden and lead Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee member for the Forced labour in UK value chains inquiry, has responded to new BBC research which indicates China is forcing hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other minorities into hard, manual labour in the cotton fields of its western region of Xinjiang.

Nusrat Ghani MP (Conservative MP for Wealden and lead BEIS Committee member for the Forced labour in UK value chains inquiry) said, “For those who thought cotton picking slave labour was a thing of the past, this BBC report is their answer. The report has once again shed light on the extent of slave labour in Xinjiang and it appals me, and I’m sure the vast majority of British consumers, that slave labour is alive and well in China.

“Some UK businesses are already switching cotton suppliers which is great news. The stated commitment from Marks & Spencer, Next, Burberry and Tesco that they have strict policy of demanding that items sourced from anywhere in China do not use raw cotton from Xinjiang is welcome and testimony to the pressure being brought to bear by an increased focus on the use of forced labour in China. But all UK businesses must now wake up to these disturbing realities, stop denying knowledge of what is taking place, examine their supply lines rigorously and make sure they are absolutely clear that they are not profiting from slave labour and abuse of the Uyghurs.

“The BBC’s investigation highlights the difficulties around supply chain transparency and the need for all companies to go further in guaranteeing they are not implicated in forced labour in Xinjiang. These are issues which we will be keen to address in the Committee’s upcoming report to be published in the New Year.”

Committee's inquiry

Nusrat Ghani will be guesting at today’s Foreign Affairs Committee session on its inquiry into the detention of Uyghurs, and other ethnic groups, in Xinjiang camps. It is available to watch on Parliament TV.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has been conducting an inquiry on Forced labour in UK value chains, exploring the extent to which businesses in the UK are exploiting the forced labour of Uyghur in the Xinjiang region of China.

The Committee will be publishing a report, including its findings and recommendations, in the New Year. In the BEIS Committee evidence session on 5th November heard from a variety of witnesses including Boohoo, H&M, TikTok, The North Face, and Nike.

Further information

Image: Jim Black from Pixabay