In a recent paper, German author Adrian Zenz accused Chinese authorities of forcing hundreds of thousands of Uygurs to pick cotton. But local farmers dismissed the allegations on Thursday, saying the claims have caused them to suffer economic losses.
As a cotton farmer from the city of Kuqa in Aksu Prefecture, Mijit Timit owns 200,000 square meters of farmland, generating an annual income of about 150,000 yuan ($23,069).
Several years back, he hired people from either Xinjiang or other parts of China to pick cotton when his family was short-handed during the harvest season. But now, he uses machines, which he says are more efficient and cost less.
Mijit said picking cotton is a well-paid job, and that’s why migrant workers go all the way to Xinjiang during the harvest season.
“We’re earning money by harvesting the cotton we grow ourselves. How can you call that ‘forced labor?'” said Mijit. “The cotton pickers we used to hire could earn about 10,000 yuan in two months. Many people rushed to do the work. We don’t need to force them.”
Mijit Timit, a Xinjiang cotton farmer speaks on a press conference held in Beijing, March 18, 2021. /CGTN
Cotton picking used to be a popular job for migrant workers from other provinces, such as Henan and Sichuan, according to Xu Guixiang, deputy director of the Publicity Department of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Xu said local employers would pay them high salaries and provide free meals and accommodation, adding that their rights were also guaranteed.
“These cotton pickers sign labor contracts with employers and receive legal payment in accordance with China’s labor law and regulations. In recent years, the number of such cotton pickers from other provinces has decreased because the income of the rural labor force has been increasing in inland areas of China,” said Xu.
He added that with the development of technology, cotton production has been highly mechanized in Xinjiang, so even in the busy harvest season, there is no need for a large number of cotton pickers.
According to officials, about 95 percent of cotton in northern Xinjiang was harvested by machines last year.
Xu said as Adrian Zenz’s “forced labor” claim has caused some countries to decrease or even stop importing cotton products from Xinjiang, some local individuals and enterprises are now suing the German author for economic losses and damaging their reputation.
CGTN Welcomes Ofcom’s Recognition of its Right to Broadcast in UK
China Global Television Network (CGTN) on Saturday welcomed the acknowledgement of the British media regulator that CGTN’s right to broadcast in Europe falls under French jurisdiction, which paves the way for its return to broadcasting in the UK after being taken off the air there two months ago.
The Office of Communications (Ofcom) of the United Kingdom on Friday said that it recognized that CGTN’s operations in Europe are in French jurisdiction, according to the Financial Times, which under the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, to which the UK is a signatory, allows it to resume airing programs in the country.
CGTN said on Saturday it is in contact with its broadcast licensee to verify the relevant information.
“We applaud and welcome the UK regulatory authorities’ return to objectivity and impartiality,” said CGTN via a spokesperson.
“As a professional international media organization, CGTN reports the world in an objective, fair and balanced manner and promote exchanges among people of all countries and regions. CGTN always respects and abides by the laws and regulations of the countries and regions where we operate,” added the spokesperson.
On February 4, 2021, Ofcom pulled CGTN off British airwaves after 18 years of services in the country, following an investigation into the broadcasting license of the outlet. CGTN has maintained that it “complies with the laws and regulations of every country” and expressed disappointment in the ruling that was “based on the so-called political nature of CGTN and related Chinese media organizations.”
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