The allegations of so-called "genocide" and "forced labor" in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are nothing but attempts to smear and demonize China, undermine security and stability in Xinjiang, weaken the local economy and contain China's development, Chinese Consul General in Los Angeles Zhang Ping has said.
Zhang rebutted the allegations in a letter to the Los Angeles Times, which published an editorial supporting a boycott of products made with cotton produced in Xinjiang.
"In fact, during the past 40 years or so, the Uygur population in Xinjiang increased from 5.55 million to 12.8 million. From 2010-18, the Uygur population increased by 25 percent, much higher than the 14 percent growth rate of Xinjiang's overall population," Zhang noted in the letter published on the Los Angeles Times' official website Wednesday.
Moreover, the claim that half a million Uygurs and other Muslim minorities had been forced to work in the cotton fields was totally absurd, he said, adding that picking cotton is a good-paying seasonal job and currently 70 percent of the cotton in Xinjiang was harvested mechanically, meaning there was no need whatsoever for so-called "forced labor."
The Chinese office of the trade group Better Cotton Initiative, an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder governance group promoting better standards in cotton farming and practices, has recently declared that since 2012, it has never found a "single case" of forced labor in Xinjiang, Zhang said.
"Xinjiang's cotton industry affects the livelihoods of millions of people. Boycotting the region's cotton puts their well-being and subsistence at risk and is therefore a gross violation of the human rights of people of all ethnicities, including the Uygurs," he said.
Zhang pointed out that Xinjiang-related issues were not about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but about fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism.
"From 1990 to 2016, attacks by separatists and religious extremists inflicted enormous losses in Xinjiang residents' lives and property," he said, noting as other countries and regions had done to eradicate extremism, Xinjiang since then began undertaking anti-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts by establishing vocational centers to help trainees obtain the education and skills necessary to find better jobs and incomes.
"In four years, the region has not seen a single violent terrorist case, leading to stability and economic growth," Zhang said.