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Chinese Xinjiang may be enslaving minorities through ‘forced labor’: UN expert

According to a report by an independent UN expert, minorities in China’s Xinjiang region have been forced to work. They are compelled to work in the manufacturing and agriculture industries. Some Western countries have accused China of human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, which China has denied repeatedly. In Xinjiang, the United States has even accused China of mass detention, torture, forced labour, and genocide.

The report by UN Special Rapporteur on Modern Slavery Tomoya Obokata, which was released on Tuesday (August 16), identified two ‘distinct state-mandated systems’ in China. The report cites think tank and NGO reports, as well as victims, to demonstrate that forced labour has occurred.

A vocational skills education and training centre system is one of two distinct state-mandated systems. Minorities are detained and subjected to work placements in this situation. Another involves attempts to reduce poverty through labour transfer, in which rural workers are moved into ‘secondary or tertiary work’.

‘While these programmes may create employment opportunities for minorities and increase their incomes… the special rapporteur believes that indicators of forced labour indicating the involuntary nature of work rendered by affected communities have been present in many cases,’ according to the report.

According to the report, the nature and extent of the workers’ powers include excessive surveillance and abusive living and working conditions. According to the report, it could ‘amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity, necessitating further independent investigation’.  In response, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, accused Obokata of ‘choosing to believe lies and disinformation fabricated by the US… as well as anti-China forces’.


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