Sup­plier cuts ties to Chi­nese com­pany

North Bay Nugget - - WORLD NEWS - Martha Men­doza and Yanan Wang

a u.s. sup­plier of t-shirts and other team ap­parel to col­lege book­stores cut its ties Wed­nes­day with a Chi­nese com­pany that drew work­ers from an in­tern­ment camp hold­ing tar­geted mem­bers of eth­nic mi­nor­ity groups.

in re­cent years, au­thor­i­ties in the far west Chi­nese re­gion of Xin­jiang have de­tained an es­ti­mated 1 mil­lion uighurs and Kaza­khs in heav­ily se­cured fa­cil­i­ties where de­tainees say they are or­dered to re­nounce their lan­guage and re­li­gion while pledg­ing loy­alty to the China’s rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party.

Last month an as­so­ci­ated Press in­ves­ti­ga­tion found the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment had also started forc­ing some de­tainees to work in man­u­fac­tur­ing and food in­dus­tries. the in­ves­ti­ga­tion tracked re­cent ship­ments from one such fac­tory, he­tian taida ap­parel, lo­cated in­side an in­tern­ment camp, to Bad­ger Sports­wear, a lead­ing sup­plier in Statesville, n.c.

in a state­ment posted to its web­site, Bad­ger said Wed­nes­day it will no longer do busi­ness with he­tian taida, nor im­port any goods from the same re­gion “given the con­tro­versy around do­ing busi­ness” there.

“Fur­ther­more, we will not ship any prod­uct sourced from he­tian taida cur­rently in our pos­ses­sion,” the com­pany said, adding that the sup­plier ac­counted for about 1 per cent of Bad­ger’s to­tal an­nual sales.

re­peated calls to he­tian taida’s chair­man, Wu hongbo, rang unan­swered Wed­nes­day. in a pre­vi­ous con­ver­sa­tion, Wu said while he­tian taida was lo­cated in the same com­pound as one camp that the gov­ern­ment calls a “vo­ca­tional skills ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­tre,” he­tian taida was not in­volved in the camp’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

how­ever, Wu said his com­pany em­ployed 20 to 30 “trainees” from the cen­tre as part of the re­gion’s ef­forts to al­le­vi­ate poverty.

asked about the case, Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Lu Kang said thurs­day that while the min­istry doesn’t gen­er­ally com­ment on in­di­vid­ual busi­ness de­ci­sions, Bad­ger ap­peared to have been act­ing on “mis­in­for­ma­tion.”

the vo­ca­tional train­ing cen­tres in Xin­jiang are “to­tally dif­fer­ent from so-called forced labour,” Lu said, re­fer­ring fur­ther ques­tions on the camps to state­ments made by the re­gional gov­ern­ment.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

A U.S. com­pany that stocks col­lege book­stores with T-shirts and other team ap­parel cut ties with a Chi­nese com­pany that drew work­ers from an in­tern­ment camp hold­ing tar­geted mem­bers of eth­nic mi­nor­ity groups.

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