New York [US], March 30 (ANI): Scores of Chinese and foreign companies may be involved in human trafficking, forced labour and other human rights abuses in China's Xinjiang region, a United Nations working group said on Monday.
"Several experts appointed by the Human Rights Council said they had received information that connected over 150 domestic Chinese and foreign domiciled companies to serious allegations of human rights abuses against Uyghur workers," South China Morning Post quoting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.
No specific companies were named, but the working group mentioned the sectors of agribusiness, tech, automotive, and textile and garment.
"Uyghur workers have reportedly been subjected to exploitative working and abusive living conditions that may constitute arbitrary detention, human trafficking, forced labour and enslavement by the use of forced labour," according to the statement about findings gathered by the OHCHR's Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
The independent sources used by the UN working group said that "hundreds of thousands of members of the Uyghur minority have been held in 're-education' facilities" and that "many have also reportedly been forcibly transferred to work in factories in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region and in other Chinese provinces".
Members of the working group have written to China's government, businesses whose supply chains include entities in Xinjiang, and the governments of 13 other countries where the companies are headquartered "to ensure that businesses under their territory and/or jurisdiction respect all human rights throughout their operations," it said. The statement did not name the other counties.
The UN group has joined the list of countries that have asked China to address reports of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Recently, several companies such as H&M and Nike (NKE) said they were concerned about allegations that forced labour has been used to produce cotton in Xinjiang.
Chinese media has called for Chinese boycotts of Swedish multinational retailer H&M, sports apparel powerhouses Nike and Adidas; New Balance; Burberry and other members of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) that have voiced concerns or pledged not to use supply chain components produced in Xinjiang, South China Morning Post reported.
Swedish multinational H&M, the world's second-largest clothing retailer, has been pulled from major e-commerce stores in China and blocked by several major navigation, review and rating apps.
Dozens of Chinese celebrities have terminated contracts or said they would cut ties with these brands, including Nike, Adidas, Puma, Converse, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Uniqlo -- a move lauded by state media.
On Friday, the Biden administration said America is keen to ensure that US companies adhere to US law and worker concerns and "don't in any way support forced labour"
The tensions between Beijing and western countries have escalated recently after the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom joined the European Union (EU) imposed sanctions on Chinese officials involved in human rights violations.
The sanctions blacklisted former and current officials in the Xinjiang region--Zhu Hailun, Wang Junzheng, Wang Mingshan and Chen Mingguo--for alleged abuses, which have sparked international outrage.
The coordinated move also targeted the state-run Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
In retaliation to the bloc's sanctions, China has decided to introduce sanctions against 10 European Union officials and four European organisations after accusing them of spreading lies and false information about the Xinjiang region.
On Friday, China introduced sanctions on nine UK citizens and four entities in response to London's sanctions on Beijing over the issue of human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.
The dispute has seen a flurry of activity in diplomatic circles, with China and European nations summoning each other's ambassadors to answer for the move and responses to it, according to the South China Morning Post. (ANI)