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France investigates retailers over China forced labour claims
Tuesday, 13 July 2021 - 16:41 | Views - 378

 

Retailers have hit back after authorities in France opened a "crimes against humanity" probe into their activities in China's Xinjiang region.

French prosecutors are looking into accusations four fashion bands sourced goods made by forced labour from Uyghur Muslims in China.

Uniqlo, Zara-owner Inditex and French textile firm SMCP deny the claims, while Skechers declined to comment.

China strongly rejects claims of human rights abuses in the region.

In March, the US, the European Union, UK and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials, citing abuses in Xinjiang. Beijing retaliated immediately with its own.

French authorities opened the probe after complaints from the European Uyghur Institute and other pressure groups that the retailers were profiting from the use of forced labour.

 

The Xinjiang region produces 85% of China's cotton and accounts for about a fifth of global supplies.

Retailers Nike, H&M and Burberry are also facing a backlash in China after they expressed concerns about the alleged use of Uyghur forced labour in cotton production earlier this year.

Evidence shown suggests that up to half a million Uyghur workers a year are being marshalled into seasonal cotton picking.

Uyghurs have been detained at camps where allegations of torture, forced labour and sexual abuse have emerged. China has denied these claims saying the camps are "re-education" facilities aimed at lifting Uyghurs out of poverty.

 

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