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Xinjiang Human Rights: Expert: accusations of forced labor in Xinjiang are groundless
February 21,2024   By:CGTN
Feb. 21, 2024 -- A bill that claims to address human rights issues affecting Uyghur and other ethnic minority groups in China has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Known as the "Uyghur Policy Act", it's the latest legislative move in the U.S. Congress that raises concerns about alleged human rights violations in the autonomous region of Xinjiang. In contrast, last year an audit commissioned by the German car-maker Volkswagen found no indication of forced labor at its plant in Xinjiang. Sun Ye asked a human rights expert why accusations of human rights violations in Xinjiang aren't going away.
 
SUN YE Beijing "What do you know about the allegations of forced labor in the testing track project of SAIC Volkswagen in Xinjiang?"
 
SHANG HAIMING Associate Professor, Human Rights Research Institute Southwest University Of Political Science And Law "In response to this particular groundless accusation, the company hired a foreign third-party organization last year to conduct an external audit. The audit found no evidence of forced labor in Volkswagen's Xinjiang enterprise. However, this does not seem to have stopped the Western world from accusations of forced labor. These allegations of forced labor were raised by a so-called Xinjiang expert named Adrian Zenz, and essentially employed the same logic he used in previous accusations against other companies in Xinjiang. This is a groundless accusation that labeled the labor movement from Xinjiang as so-called forced labor. Adrian Zenz considers any company that employs labor from southern Xinjiang to be engaging in forced labor. I believe this is not about protecting the labor rights of people in Xinjiang, but depriving them of their right to employment. In recent years, especially since 2018 and 2019, many sensational claims of forced labor in Xinjiang or Xizang have been made by Adrian Zenz. This series of sensational claims has been traced back this one person, Adrian Zenz."
 
SUN YE Beijing "Do you think the accusers are confusing or misunderstanding China's poverty alleviation efforts?"
 
SHANG HAIMING Associate Professor, Human Rights Research Institute Southwest University Of Political Science And Law "I personally don't believe this is confusion, but an intentional act. The United Nations International Convention has a clear definition of forced labor. It refers to any work or service that is exacted from a person using menace, by coercion and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily. The key word here is coercion. Labor transfer and employment in China are based on voluntary participation, aiming to promote employment opportunities for people in southern Xinjiang to go to northern Xinjiang or other areas. There is no coercion involved in this process. However, in the view of Adrian Zenz, as long as someone participates in the labor transfer program, they are being forced by the Chinese government to join. Labeling it as forced labor, this is done deliberately and intentionally."
 
SUN YE Beijing "The so called 'Uyghur Policy Act' passed by the U.S. House of Representatives claims to protect Uyghur cultural heritage, can it truly protect the rights of them?"
 
SHANG HAIMING Associate Professor, Human Rights Research Institute Southwest University Of Political Science And Law "This bill on Uyghur policy, passed by the House of Representatives, is an interference in the name of protecting ethnic minorities. And its real purpose is by no means to protect the rights of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. I believe there are three main objectives: the first is an attempt to further internationalize the Xinjiang question through this bill, aiming to undermine China's international image. The second is to strengthen the U.S. government's interference in the Xinjiang question in this way. The third objective, I believe, is to provide funding to separatist forces in Xinjiang by funding non-governmental organizations in order to expand their influence internationally and affect China's internal stability."

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