1.Xinjiang, or the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), is China’s largest administrative region and has been an Autonomous Region since 1955. The largest ethnic group in the region is the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs. There is mounting evidence from a variety of credible sources that the Uyghur population has been the subject of systematic human rights violations, including slave labour, sanctioned by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
2.Since 2017, international bodies such as the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and NGOs, including Amnesty International, the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur Human Rights Project, have chronicled ongoing restrictive and oppressive measures employed by the Chinese authorities against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. In August 2017, the World Uyghur Congress published evidence revealing that over one million Uyghurs had been rounded up by Chinese police forces and moved to large ‘re-education’ camps in Xinjiang over a five month period, and in September 2018, Amnesty International launched a campaign to raise awareness of the situation and to lobby the Chinese Government to stop targeting Uyghurs.
More than one million Uyghurs were rounded up by Chinese police forces and moved to ‘re-education’ camps in Xinjiang in 2017 alone.
3.In November 2019, BBC Panorama reported on leaked Chinese Communist Party documents from 2017 showing the planning behind these mass-detention camps, which involve the extrajudicial internment and indoctrination of ethnic minority peoples in Xinjiang. The documents also laid out the draconian monitoring and disciplinary procedures used in the camps. In February 2020, Human Rights Watch reported evidence of what it described as “horrific abuses” in Xinjiang, which included mass arbitrary detention, torture, forced political indoctrination, and mass surveillance. In February 2021, the BBC reported on ‘systematic rape’ in the camps. The UK Government has acknowledged that “[t]here is compelling evidence of widespread and systematic human rights violations taking place in Xinjiang, including the extrajudicial detention of over a million Uyghurs since 2017”. In January 2021 Siobhain McDonagh MP published a letter from the Minister for Asia, Nigel Adams MP, in which he acknowledged the “extra-judicial detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in ‘political re-education camps’” throughout the region.
4.The allegations about the human rights abuses being committed against Uyghur people in Xinjiang goes beyond the internment camps. In a report submitted to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in December 2020, the Uyghur Human Rights Project provided evidence to support a range of serious allegations regarding the Chinese Government’s treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The report includes satellite images that show the destruction of Uyghur cultural landmarks, and evidence that Uyghur women have been forcibly sterilised as part of a population control programme, with population growth in the Xinjiang region falling by over 84% in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018.
There is compelling evidence that Uyghur women have been forcibly sterilised as part of a population control programme, with population growth in the Xinjiang region fell by over 84% in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018.
5.Furthermore, in September 2020, the Guardian reported that after “graduating” from the detention camps, Uyghurs are often moved to factories around China as a source of free labour. In its policy brief Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang, published in February 2020, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces using Uyghur labour transferred from Xinjiang. It is estimated that at least 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang from 2017–19 under Xinjiang Aid, a state-sponsored programme that encourages local government and business organisations to find employment opportunities for newly ‘re-educated’ Uyghurs in order to ‘aid’ the region’s development and stability. According to ASPI, there is a direct pipeline of Uyghurs being transported from the camps to factories across China under the Xinjiang Aid programme. ASPI also identified more than 82 foreign and Chinese companies directly or indirectly benefiting from the exploitation of Uyghur workers in Xinjiang. ASPI’s list names leading brands in the automotive, fashion, retail and information technology sectors, including Adidas, Amazon, Apple, Google, Jaguar, Land Rover, Nike, Samsung, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret and Zara.
At least 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred from Xinjiang to work in factories across China from 2017–19.
6.In October 2019, the United States’ Department of Commerce added 28 Chinese governmental and commercial organisations implicated in human rights violations against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang to its Entity List, an economic blacklist which restricts the export of items subject to Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to listed entities. The 28 Chinese entities included the surveillance technology companies Hikvision, Dahua Technology, and SenseTime, all listed in the ASPI policy brief. This action followed the addition of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to the Entity List in May 2019, a company which was also named by ASPI.
More than 82 foreign and Chinese companies directly or indirectly benefit from the exploitation of Uyghur workers in Xinjiang.
7.Concerned by allegations that products sold in the UK can be traced back to forced labour camps in China, we announced a one-off oral evidence session and published a call for evidence on 18 September 2020. Our inquiry focused on two key issues: i) the risks faced by UK based businesses when engaging supply chains that originate in China and how to achieve transparency in those supply chains, and; ii) what the UK Government can do to ensure that businesses and consumers in the UK do not perpetuate the forced labour of Uyghur. See appendix 1 for the full terms of reference.
8.We wrote to 15 high-profile companies in the fashion, retail and information technology sectors on 16 October, inviting them to give both written and oral evidence to the inquiry. We thank all of those who gave evidence to our inquiry, including Mr Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets. A full list of the letters sent to companies is attached at appendix 2.
9.The Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) launched a related inquiry into Xinjiang detention camps on 18 September 2020, examining how the UK Government can prevent UK companies from benefitting from forced labour in Xinjiang, support members of the Uyghur diaspora community, and strengthen the UK Government’s atrocity prevention mechanisms. We welcome the FAC’s broader inquiry into this urgent issue, and have sent joint letters with the Committee to other companies, including Primark and UNIQLO, in relation to their links to Xinjiang.
10.We also welcome the FAC’s letter to The Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, the Foreign Secretary, asking the Government to take formal steps towards determining whether the Chinese Government’s policies in Xinjiang constitute genocide. Given the then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s determination on 19 January 2021 that the Chinese Government has committed genocide against Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang, and the clear concern President Joseph R. Biden has on this issue, we support the FAC’s efforts to urge the UK Government to reassess its position in relation to this matter. We suggest that the upcoming G7 may present good opportunities to show progress on this issue.
11.Furthermore, given ongoing concerns around the environmental impact of the fashion industry and working conditions in UK garment factories, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) commenced a follow up inquiry to its 2018 inquiry, Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability in October 2020. Following the evidence given to our Committee by Andrew Reaney, Group Director of Responsible Sourcing for Boohoo Group, the EAC heard evidence from Mahmud Kamani, the Executive Chairman of Boohoo Group on 16 December 2020.
12.Since our evidence session on 5 November 2020, there have been several key developments which have underscored the urgency of our inquiry. In December 2020, the BBC published a report titled “China’s ‘tainted’ cotton”, which provides detailed evidence to suggest that the Chinese Government is forcing hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other minorities into hard, manual labour in the cotton fields of western Xinjiang. The BBC approached 30 international brands about their links to Xinjiang, and only a few gave assurances that they have policies to ensure their products are not made using raw cotton from Xinjiang. Following the BBC’s revelations, BuzzFeed News released its own evidence that China has built over 100 new facilities in Xinjiang where Uyghurs and other minority groups are detained and forced to work in factories.
The Board of Deputies noted in a letter to the Prime Minister the similarities between what is “alleged to be happening in the People’s Republic of China today and what happened in Nazi Germany 75 years ago: people being forcibly loaded on to trains; beards of religious men being trimmed; women being sterilised; and the grim spectre of concentration camps”.
13.On 15 January 2021, the Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote to the Prime Minister to recommend the Government support moves to strengthen trade legislation to allow the UK High Court to make a preliminary legal determination of genocide. In this letter, its President explain that “as a community, we are always extremely hesitant to consider comparisons with the Holocaust”, but noted the similarities between what is “alleged to be happening in the People’s Republic of China today and what happened in Nazi Germany 75 years ago: people being forcibly loaded on to trains; beards of religious men being trimmed; women being sterilised; and the grim spectre of concentration camps”. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust recognises that Uyghurs have faced years of persecution and cultural repression, and has called for action on this and other human rights abuses.
14.In the face of mounting evidence of forced labour and wider human rights abuses being committed against Uyghur peoples and other minorities in Xinjiang, the Foreign Secretary gave a statement to the House of Commons on 12 January 2021. The Foreign Secretary stated that “the evidence of the scale and severity of the human rights violations being perpetrated in Xinjiang against the Uyghur Muslims is now far-reaching. It paints a truly harrowing picture”. He laid out a new set of Government actions designed to further tackle this issue.
“The evidence of the scale and severity of the human rights violations being perpetrated in Xinjiang against the Uyghur Muslims is now far-reaching. It paints a truly harrowing picture” - The Foreign Secretary, 12 January 2021
15.These actions include the launching of an urgent review of export controls as they apply to Xinjiang, the introduction of financial penalties for organisations that do not meet their obligations under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and the issuing of new guidance to UK businesses about the specific risks faced by companies with links to Xinjiang. We were disappointed by the Government’s statement, as it introduced no significant new measures to prohibit UK businesses from profiting from the forced labour of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and other parts of China. We are also deeply concerned about reports that the Government procured personal protective equipment from factories in Xinjiang and other parts of China implicated in modern slavery during the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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7 Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government () para 20
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9 Uyghur Human Rights Project, LOI Submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (66th Pre-Sessional Working Group), December 2020
10 Uyghur Human Rights Project, LOI Submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (66th Pre-Sessional Working Group), December 2020, p 4–9
11 The Guardian, ‘’, accessed 20 October 2020
14 Xu, Cave, Leibold, Munro, Ruser, Uyghurs for sale, February 2020, p 3–5; since its publication, ASPI has updated the policy brief to note correspondences from several brands clarifying their links to Xinjiang
15 US Government Federal Register, ‘’, accessed 28 October 2020
16 US Government Federal Register, ‘’, accessed 28 October 2020
17 Letters were sent to the following companies: , , , , , , , , , , , , , and . All the companies responded to the invitation and submitted written evidence, and seven companies agreed to send representatives: H&M, IKEA, VF Corporation, Puma, Nike, Boohoo and TikTok
18 Foreign Affairs Committee, ‘’, accessed 15 October 2020
19 Foreign Affairs Committee, and
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