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China Denies Uyghur Forced Labor

Dina Faisal Dina Faisal
16th April 2021
China Denies Uyghur Forced Labor
NYT investigation revealed some companies are using Uyghur labor (Getty).

The Claim

There is no forced labor of the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region in China.

Emerging story

Posts circulating on social media, particularly Chinese users, claim there is no forced labor of Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region, including Chinese embassy officials and Chinese Newspapers. Posts adamantly refute any allegations, saying they are rumors. One user said that the forced labor rumor smeared Xinjiang, while others shared smiling images and videos of Uyghur people working to emphasize further that labor is not forced. Claims also add that through this employment, a better life is created for Xinjiang residents through engagement, mentioning “women” can now pay for and feed their kids. Other users deflected on the US, saying that slaves and prisoners were forced labor.

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A supporting image within the article body

Misbar’s Analysis

The Misbar investigation found this claim to be fake. Despite refutes coming from Chinese officials, denying forced labor of the Uyghur people, the evidence points elsewhere. In 2020, a New York Times visual investigation had revealed that some companies that produce face masks in China were using Uyghur labor through a “contentious government-sponsored program that experts put people to work against their will.” In December, a report by Adrian Zen from the Center for Global Policy (CGP) found that online Chinese government documents and media reports show that at least 570,000 people were sent to Uyghur-majority regions to pick cotton, allegedly as part of a forced labor scheme. 

NGOs such as the UN are voicing concerns about forced labor, while governments such as the UK warn British businesses of fines if they fail to ensure their supply chains are free of slave labor. They also criticized China for widespread human rights abuses.  In the latest findings, according to Sky News, there is an official "labor transfer program" being run by the Xinjiang government to “provide more employment opportunities for the surplus rural labor force." Chinese adverts sell Uyghur workers in batches of 50 to 100. The article explains that there are “tight political and social controls” such as transfers to other provinces with security guaranteed by the government and political examinations from the Xinjiang government and the receiving provinces' government. Supervisors accompany workers, and a “half-military management” style is used. In light of these findings, countries such as the UK, USA, EU countries, Canada, and possibly Australia have all sanctioned Chinese officials linked to forced labor. 

Moreover, China denies any independent investigations to take place in the Xinjiang region, causing further suspicions. Given the context, and although China continues to deny these allegations, the strict controls of ‘employment and the reports and investigations lead the Misbar team to conclude the claim as false.

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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