Multiple independent reports suggest that as many as one million people from Uyghur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities have been arbitrarily detained in China’s Xinjiang province in recent years. Many of these people are allegedly accommodated in so-called ‘political reeducation’ and ‘vocational training’ centres. Many are allegedly forced to work – both in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China – on worksites supplying goods to global markets, notably in the cotton, tomato and solar panel supply-chains.
In response, countries have begun adopting import bans, targeted sanctions and other economic coercive measures – binding instruments intended to cause the target some harm or economic loss with the purpose of inducing a change in policy or practices. Some companies have adopted heightened due diligence measures, or even divested from operations in the region. The Chinese government has adopted its own counter-measures, sanctioning actors in more than a dozen countries, and adopting new regulatory frameworks to discourage cooperation with foreign measures targeting alleged Xinjiang forced labour.
Since Xinjiang is the source of around 20 per cent of global cotton, 18 per cent of global tomato production (and over 40 per cent of tomato paste), and 35 to 45 per cent of global polysilicon used in solar panels, this exchange of coercive measures and counter-measures may have the potential for significant impact on global trade. This could have important economic and political ramifications, not least given the growing demand for solar panels as efforts to decarbonize gain pace around the world.
This project, based at the University of Nottingham Rights Lab tracks and analyses these measures relating to alleged Xinjiang forced labour and offers recommendations for how their preventive impact can be strengthened.
The UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has provided the Rights Lab with funding which has been used towards this project.
While open source reporting of the coercive measures that governments have begun adopting has been extensive, there has been no public, centralized database of these measures available to date.
This makes it difficult for policy actors and companies to identify what measures are in place, understand their potential implications and impacts, and ensure effective policy and response design.
Similarly, the absence of a centralized dataset tracking corporate responses to these allegations has made effective due diligence difficult.
To address these gaps, we have compiled three datasets:
These data sets will be updated as new measures are adopted.
The current version of the datasets was released in March 2022 (version 4.0 for the XJS-GMS and XJS-CCM datasets, and version 1.0 of the XJS-CRS dataset). Earlier versions are available in this Archive.
In coming weeks we will release a series of policy briefs, and an overall research report, providing in depth analyses of these measures and their impacts, and providing recommendations on strengthening the preventive impact of responses to alleged Xinjiang forced labour.
In the meantime, an Overview Policy Brief (based on version 3.0 of the XJS-GMS and XJS-CCM datasets, October 2021) is available, describing the major contours of government measures.
Earlier versions are available in this Archive.
We are keen to hear from you, especially if you have been affected by these measures or have information about corporate responses. Please contact Professor James Cockayne by email or via Signal. Subscribe below for new data and analysis.