An ethical company is a profitable company. Given the human rights concern prevalent in the global community today, a company cannot exist solely for the purpose of making profits while ignoring the atrocities happening around it. A company has social responsibility in the region it operates in.
And at the minimum, it cannot be perceived, seen or actually supporting the Communist Party of China (CCP), a totalitarian regime that engages in human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The U.S. government has concluded that these state-sponsored human rights abuses constitute genocide.
The United Nations, in a new report released on August 31 by the Human Rights Office, stated that the CCP is responsible for widespread serious human rights violations in Xinjiang and these violations “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
The report said that “allegations of patterns of torture, or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.” The incidents of sexual and gender-based violence included invasive gynecological exams and coercive enforcement of family planning and birth control policies.
Mass detention of Muslim minorities
Before the release of the United Nations report, there are already numerous other research and investigative reports published by a diverse range of non-governmental organizations, think-tanks and media outlets, as well as public accounts by victims. They have all detailed arbitrary detention on a broad scale in detention centers, and claims of torture and other ill-treatment.
Since at least March 2017, the CCP has unjustly imprisoned more than one million Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and Muslim minority groups for indefinite periods in internment camps.
Detainees have described extreme overcrowding, sleep and food deprivation, medical neglect, physical and psychological abuse, torture, forced labor, forced ingestion of unidentified drugs, forced sterilizations and abortions, sexual abuse, forced renunciation of religion, denial of prayer and other religious practices (including pressure to consume pork or alcohol), denial of the use of their native languages, and being forced to study and recite CCP propaganda. There are even reports that some detainees have died.
Crimes against humanity
Despite international condemnation, the CCP continues its horrific abuses and continues to carry out genocide and crimes against humanity. Companies and consumers cannot be complicit in the CCP’s crimes.
Given the severity and extent of these crimes, companies that do not exit supply chains, ventures and investments connected to Xinjiang run a very real and high risk of violating relevant laws and significant economic, financial and reputational damages. Global consumers are more than willing to voice their concerns with their money by not patronizing brands associated with Xinjiang.
The United Nations report urged the business community, including global CEOs and investors, to take “all possible measures to meet the responsibility to respect human rights across activities and business relationships … including through enhanced human rights due diligence, and report on this transparently.”
This is an important responsibility for companies because if CEOs and investors do not make the right decisions, if they continue to invest in and source from Xinjiang, then they will be associating their brands with a totalitarian regime that engages in genocide and crimes against humanity. Whichever way one looks at it, this is not a good optic.
The international community is no longer blinded by the CCP’s misinformation campaigns and propaganda, and no longer cowed by the CCP’s wolf warrior tactics of insults and aggressiveness. In fact, the rose-tinted glasses are off and many in the free, open and democratic world is repulsed by the CCP and have a very unfavorable opinion of Communist China.
The CCP’s repressive policies have taken away from Muslim minorities their freedom and human rights and they are subjected to horrific abuses. The profound concerns over systematic human rights violations and the widespread effect on minorities cannot, and should not, be ignored by the international business community.
CEOs and investors must have the integrity and courage to do the right thing and stand on the right side of history. They must have transparency and accountability in their supply chains, take a clear stand against human rights violations in Xinjiang and advocate for democracy. History, and consumers, will reward the righteous CEOs and investors who earn their profits in an ethical manner.
Photo credit: Pixabay/ liuguangxi. Xinjiang Muslim minorities.