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The Winter Olympics in Beijing is entering the final stages. On Sunday, the big closing ceremony will take place in the “Bird’s Nest”. Perhaps the hosts and the IOC are even a tad bit glad that the Games are about to end? Beijing and the Olympic Committee have been the focus of criticism over the past two weeks.
Now, human rights activists and the International Labor Organization (ILO) – after all, a specialized agency of the UN – have once again raised critical questions about the human rights situation in Xinjiang, as Marcel Grzanna reports. Once again, it was questioned whether the IOC supplier Anta actually does not engage in forced labor.
Meanwhile, cargo flights from western Xinjiang have been arriving at airports in Budapest and Liège since mid-January. We can only hope that the international attention on the important issues of human rights will not fade away with the Olympic spotlight. Naturally, we will continue to follow the story.
Volkswagen is no stranger to the controversy surrounding Xinjiang. After all, the company was publicly criticized for operating a plant in the Uyghur region. However, the carmaker is currently plagued by other woes: Overall sales in the People’s Republic are dropping, and EV sales fail to meet the company’s expectations. Whereas Volkswagen was once the absolute market leader, its competitors, especially from China itself, have caught up significantly, explains Frank Sieren. Still, VW remains optimistic that it will ultimately be able to convince Chinese customers to buy its EVs. But what else can VW executives do but conjure up a good mood? Our correspondent on the ground is far less optimistic.
UN organization criticizes situation in Xinjiang
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region (EUFL) accuse the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of lacking transparency. The federation, they say, is not creating a definitive certainty whether clothing from its Chinese outfitter, Anta, is truly made without the involvement of forced labor by Uyghur workers. The accusations follow the IOC’s shameful behavior regarding the case of tennis player Peng Shuai (China.Table reported).
For months, both the EUFL and HRW have been pressing the IOC to provide details of how it has audited Anta’s supply chain. The IOC responded in January with a statement. According to it, the IOC complies with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The IOC had come to this conclusion after appropriate third-party inspections. Independent auditing institutions were responsible for the inspections and had directly reached out to workers. The result: everything is clean. Anta would not even use cotton in clothing for IOC members at all.
Human rights organizations were not satisfied with this and continued to press the issue. The IOC statement allegedly contains considerable gaps. The audit results lack transparency and do not include an analysis of the procurement methods of suppliers, they criticized. The IOC has not yet responded to their demand for corrections.