The latest US-implemented law changes China’s cotton industry
The latest US-implemented law changes China’s cotton industry

The latest US-implemented law changes China’s cotton industry

The US Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) entered into force on 21 June. This potentially far-reaching legislation prohibits imports made by forced labor in XinjiangChina, which includes cotton products.

About 90 percent of China’s cotton is produced in Xinjiang, and the region has almost no capacity to prove that forced labor is not used. The situation could cause China’s textile and clothing factories to avoid using Xinjiang – produced raw materials if they want to export their products, unless the Chinese regime stops slavery in Xinjiang.

In addition, the European Union adopted a resolution on June 9 condemning the crimes against humanity against Uighurs and calling for a restriction on imports of products made through forced labor.

With similar actions from other regions and countries, the impact of the UFLPA will be stronger to force the Chinese regime to stop forced labor.


The State Department issued a press release saying it implemented the UFLPA on June 21st.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is committed to “continuing to fight forced labor in Xinjiang and strengthen international coordination against this serious violation of human rights,” it said. announcement.

The law was signed into law by US President Joe Biden on December 23, 2021 after approval by US lawmakers. It represents Washington’s significant response to the “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” that are taking place in the Xinjiang region of northwest China.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported in its “2021 Report on International Religious Freedom: China-Xinjiang”, published on June 2, that the White House estimated that the Chinese regime “has detained more than a million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Hui and members of other Muslim groups. , as well as some Christians, in specially built detention camps or converted detention facilities in Xinjiang ”since April 2017.

Although Beijing denies any human rights abuses, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday: “We are gathering our allies and partners to free global supply chains from the use of forced labor, to speak out against atrocities in Xinjiang and to join us in urging the Chinese government to to stop atrocities and human rights violations, including forced labor. “

Farmers pick cotton in the fields during the harvest season in Hami in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region on September 20, 2015. (STR / AFP via Getty Images)

UFLPA affects the production of Xinjiang cotton, which affects China’s textile companies using cotton as one of its raw materials. As the Chinese regime proudly claimed, China is the world’s largest textile exporter.

According to StatistaChina exported $ 154 billion worth of textiles by 2020, accounting for 43.5 percent of the world’s textile export market.

Xinjiang is suitable for growing cotton due to its large lands and a desert climate. Chinese National Bureau of Statistics released on December 14, 2021, Xinjiang said it produces 89.5 percent of China’s cotton a year, using 82.8 percent of the country’s total cotton plant area.

In 2022, Xinjiang’s cotton plant area used 86.4 percent of China’s total cotton plant area, meaning its production will share more than 90 percent of the country’s total production, China Cotton Association reported on May 25 after conducting a nationwide survey.

Xinjiang is divided into north and south by the Tian Shan Mountains. In northern Xinjiang, more than half of the population is of Han ethnicity. Here, farmers plant short cotton, which enables them to use machines to plant and harvest the crop.

In southern Xinjiang, the majority of the population is Uighur. The cotton planted there is the long base type, which is the best quality cotton in China. However, cotton harvesting is dependent on hand picking.

Labor costs in Xinjiang are relatively low. The cotton is picked by hand in southern Xinjiang and partly in northern Xinjiang, which may involve the use of forced labor. In recent years, more and more cotton farmers in northern Xinjiang have started using machines to harvest the crop. According to Chinese regime69.83 percent of cotton was picked by machine in 2020.

According to UFLPA, the exporter wishing to sell the textile or clothing products to the United States must provide conclusive evidence that there was no forced labor involved in the products. Since most of the textiles and garments are made of cotton, the exporter needs such proof if the cotton is from Xinjiang.

However, insiders in the textile industry said that there is no independent audit service in Xinjiang, which means that exporters using Xinjiang cotton cannot verify that their products are free from forced labor.

“The law [UFLPA] will essentially act as a trade embargo on goods with input from Xinjiang, ”Doug Barry, Vice President of Communications and Publications of the US-China Business Council, told South China Morning Post on June 20th.

Epoch Times photo
A Chinese farmer picks cotton in the fields during the harvest season in Hami in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region on September 20, 2015. (STR / AFP via Getty Images)

China’s cotton industry

As the world’s largest textile producer, consumer and exporter, China produced 54.3 million tonnes of fiber in 2017, of which over 20 million tonnes were exported to other countries, the China Cotton Association (CCA). reported on December 21, 2018.

Based on a CCA report, 36.8 percent of China’s fibers are exported, and the United States is China’s largest importer.

At the same time China import cotton from the United States, Brazil, India, Australia and other countries. According to China National Cotton Information center25 percent of China’s cotton used in 2021 was imported, and this percentage will drop to 24 percent in 2022 due to the high cotton price in the global market.

In order to meet the export volume of textiles and clothing, China has to import more cotton because Xinjiang cotton is not qualified to export to the United States.

UFLPA Impact

“UFLPA is great for the Chinese and the global supply chain,” Wang He, the U.S.-based commentator on China affairs, told The Epoch Times on June 22.

Wang believes that not all Chinese textile companies could immediately buy the qualified cotton to produce the products for export, but that they must catch up because more and more countries and regions will follow the United States and ban forced labor products.

“I think EU citizens would be shocked to know that a ban on products known to be manufactured by forced labor does not already exist,” said Laura Murphy, a human rights professor at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. told BBC on 20 June. “The EU must also be a leader in conducting mandatory due diligence on human rights. Both of these tools are needed to ensure that companies address forced labor and other abuses in their supply chains.”

The textile industry the contribution 11.4 percent of China’s exports in 2020 worth $ 296 billion, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

“Being unable to use Xinjiang cotton for the textile and clothing export industry is a disaster for the Beijing regime,” Wang said. “The Chinese economy is badly damaged by the regime’s COVID-19 Zero Tolerance policy because cities are locked down one after the other and people are not allowed to work. The regime is dependent on the textile industry because China’s textile and clothing exports earn nearly $ 300 billion each year and contributes over 50 percent of China’s trade surplus. “

Wang said importers may face difficulties in finding alternatives to China-made textiles in the global market for some time. But in the long run, the world will benefit.

“In fact, UFLPA is forcing international brands, such as H&M and Nike, to search for their original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in other countries. This can diversify the global supply chain and boost the economy of other developing countries. “

Epoch Times photo
Workers install solar panels at a solar plant in Hami in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on August 22, 2011. (Chinatopix via AP)

In addition to cotton, polysilicon, a-silicon and amorphous silicon used in the solar energy industry will also be affected by UFLPA. According to China Photovoltaic Industry Association, China accounted for for 97.3 percent of the global silicon used for solar energy in 2021. State-run Xinjiang Daily reported on February 28 that Xinjiang produced 58.9 percent of China’s production.

The United States has banned the import of goods produced by forced labor since 1930, where § 307 the Tariff Act came into force. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on its website the entry into force of the UFLPA and published one operating instructions for importers on 13 June.

Nicole Hao


Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focusing on China-related topics. Prior to joining Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as Global Product Manager for a railway company in Paris, France.

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