File photo Photograph:( Reuters )
Multiple countries have recently imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for alleged human rights abuses in the region
The United States on Friday accused China of undertaking a “state-led” social media campaign against companies for deciding against using cotton from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns of forced labour.
Jalina Porter, the State Department spokeswoman said that the social media campaign and consumer boycotts were targeting American, European, and Japanese businesses.
"We commend and stand with companies that adhere to US laws and ensure that products we are consuming are not made with forced labor," Porter said during a briefing. “We support and encourage businesses to respect human rights in line with the UN guiding principles on business and human rights and the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises," she added.
Xinjiang is one of the world’s leading producers of cotton, but China has been accused of committing “genocide” against Uighur Muslims in the region and forcing people to work.
China has denied all such claims, claiming they have set up vocational training centres for Uighur Muslims to counter religious extremism.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki had earlier urged the international community to "oppose China's weaponizing of private companies' dependence on its markets to stifle free expression and inhibit ethical business practices”.
Many international companies have put out statements claiming they no longer intend to use cotton coming from Xinjiang. Chinese consumers have responded to these moves strongly. Many celebrities in the country have ceased deals with brands like Nike and other US brands, including New Balance, Under Armour, Tommy Hilfiger, and Converse.
Multiple countries have recently imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for alleged human rights abuses in the region.