New Zealand: New Zealand buying more from Chinese region linked to forced labour

As countries around the world try to stop the importation of goods produced using forced labour in Xinjiang, China, New Zealand has actually increased their imports.

Exports from the region where up to a million people have been detained in re-education camps have increased to $4.9 million in the first six months of 2021. According to data from China’s customs authority, this is double the amount from the same period in 2020.

It is impossible to confirm whether the goods are produced using forced labour, but commentators say much of what is produced in the agricultural region is thought to in some way be connected to forced labour.

“Officials should be keeping an eye on goods coming directly from Xinjiang because there is a higher degree of the likelihood it will be associated with some part of the oppressive architecture there,” said James Leibold, a senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “We need to do a lot more to make sure our supply chains are clean to things like forced labour.”

He added that because Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps produces many agricultural products exported from the region, this increases concerns. The US placed sanctions on this company citing human rights abuses against the Uyghur.

Chinese customs data shows exports from Xinjiang to New Zealand included a range of products such as cotton sheets and clothing, furniture, tomato paste, grapes and jam and marmalades.

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