A new challenge for slavery research everywhere is now posed by the hard evidence of how China's government is organizing mass slavery of targeted indigenous people, as part of their racist campaign against the Uyghur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities of China's western Uyghur region, known in Chinese as Xinjiang (lit. 'New conquest'), ca 15 million people in total.
No courses on slavery henceforth could be taught without incorporating this 21st century state slavery targeting minorities in China, including its 21st century slave cotton harvesters.
This is not the slavery of the shadows, that has been going on in many places around the world, after the 19th- and 20th century legal abolition of slavery in much of the world.
On the contrary, this is government-organized mass slavery carried out in the open, albeit under the covers of a media blackout actively blocking independent reporting on what is going on, plus state propaganda campaigns that dress up the dispossession and enslavement of the colonized peoples as "development."
The slavery centrally implicates the global textile and clothing industry, which gets 20% of its cotton from the slave picked fields of Xinjiang. With the blow-by-blow revelations that have emerged over the last year or so, some textile companies have been forced to pledge to stop sourcing Xinjiang cotton. However, not least due to evasive maneuvers of Chinese industry, much of it continues to be woven into the fabric of the global economy, practically in every man's wardrobe.
Other export products tainted by slave labor includes tomatoes (much of the world's ketchup is sourced from Xinjiang, where like the cotton it is produced through the settler-colonial military corporation called XPCC, infamously known as the Bingtuan); shoes and other clothing, women's hair, Covid protective supplies, and much more.
Much of the slavery takes place in occupied Xinjiang, where it often uses concentration camp detainees as workers, shuttling them back and forth between barbed-wire camps and daytime factories. The new punitive camp system have been built up since 2017 as part of a series of mass atrocities, including the mass sterilizations of Uyghur minority women, and the mass confiscation of children to state-orphanage Chinese-only schools, actions which starkly highlight the genocidal character of the Chinese state campaign conducted since 2017.
In addition, large numbers of young slave workers have been shipped to factories in eastern China where they are held prison-like in factories. Here the evidence includes numerous advertisements offering batches of slaves to factory owners, complete with police guards to prevent escape.
The victims of this transplanted slavery, which altogether removes indigenous people from their homeland, are often the able-bodied survivors of the concentration camps, which in themselves involve an identity conversion therapy intended to shed the minority people of their ethnic identity, language and everyday religion -- thus the state-organized slavery in effect functions as an integrated element of the genocidal campaign.
In this comprehensive bibliography covering all aspects of the mass atrocities, slavery researchers will find many research and news reports on the new Chinese slavery, as well as a section with key highlights: https://uhrp.org/featured-articles/chinas-re-education-concentration-camps-xinjiang
Here is a selection of last week's widely noted reports on the cotton slavery:
New evidence of Uighur forced labour in China’s cotton industry. BBC News. Dec. 14, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t28nnviKar4
+ China’s ‘tainted’ cotton. BBC, Dec. 14, 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/extra/nz0g306v8c/china-tainted-cotton
Coercive Labor in Xinjiang: Labor Transfer and the Mobilization of Ethnic Minorities to Pick Cotton. December 14, 2020. By Adrian Zenz. https://cgpolicy.org/briefs/coercive-labor-in-xinjiang-labor-transfer-and-the-mobilization-of-ethnic-minorities-to-pick-cotton/
Over 570,000 Uighurs forced to pick cotton in Xinjiang, report says. AFP / Hong Kong Free Press, Dec. 15, 2020. https://hongkongfp.com/2020/12/15/over-570000-uighurs-forced-to-pick-cotton-in-chinas-xinjiang-report/
UK says credible evidence of forced labour in China's Xinjiang region. Reuters. December 16, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-china-idUSKBN28Q1VS
+ On Dec. 18, 2020, the European Parliament, voting 604-20, adopted a Resolution condemning Uyghur slave labor, clearing the way for sanctions against the slavery, and for measures against Western companies profiting from it, extending the partial measures adopted by the US so far. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/resolution-12182020153103.html
+ also see the call for action from the international Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region: https://enduyghurforcedlabour.org/
180+ Orgs Demand Apparel Brands End Complicity in Uyghur Forced Labour. 2020-07-23.
+ don't miss this report on how descendants of enslaved people in the US today are buying slave products from China;
‘Black gold’ - How global demand for hair products is linked to forced labor in Xinjiang. CNN, Oct 9, 2020. https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2020/10/asia/black-gold-hair-products-forced-labor-xinjiang/
Among the many pending research questions provoked by the massive new evidence of the Chinese enslavement of indigenous peoples, and how the world is implicated through supply chains and trade, is the overall looming question of "why."
Online bibliography (periodically updated) on the genocide in the Uyghur region (East Turkestan):