Foreigner faces civil suit over Xinjiang reports
The official news outlet of the Communist Party of China’s Xinjiang region said companies from the area have filed a domestic civil lawsuit seeking compensation from a US-based human rights researcher whose reports alleged forced labor is used in the region’s cotton industry.
The companies said researcher Adrian Zenz’s reports were untrue, damaged the reputation of the industry and led to economic losses after the United States banned cotton imports from Xinjiang, according to a report on by the Xinjiang Communist Party website on Monday.
The report said the suit was filed in a local Xinjiang court but did not include details of which companies were behind the civil action nor how much they were seeking in compensation.
Experts said the suit would be the first known instance of a foreign researcher facing civil action in China over human rights research that has contributed to pressure for economic sanctions.
The administration of former US President Donald Trump first banned imports of cotton from Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which produces around 30 percent of China’s cotton. In January, it announced an import ban on all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations that they were made with forced labor, without citing the source of the allegations.