How to Avoid Buying Products from Xinjiang

How to Avoid Buying Products from Xinjiang

At I write this, thousands of people around the world are taking to the streets protesting what’s going on with Palestinian Arabs. Millions more are reading on TikTok how the nation of Israel is “occupying” territories that ostensibly belong to Palestinian Arabs.

It’s not within the purview of this site for me to swim into that morass. But there is one thing that does come to mind. Why are thousands of Muslims around the world and their followers on TikTok so vociferous about the plight of 5 million Palestinian Muslims, while being completely silent on the condition of 12 million Uyghur Muslims?

The History of East Turkestan and Xinjiang

The geographical area called the Xinjiang province has an interesting spot geographically.

It borders Central Asian nations that were part of the former Soviet Union (in fact, if it were its own country, its Uyghur population alone would make it larger than Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan).

China can thank Genghis Khan for defeating that territory and making it part of China. In the 17th and 18th centuries the area was controlled by the Dzungar Khanate, which was conquered by the Qing Dynasty in the late 1700s. As tends to happen in wars, 80% of the Dzungar population was wiped out by a combination of disease, expatriation, and war.

That left a vacuum which the Qing Dynasty filled by resettling Han, Hui, Kazahks, and Uygurs. With the elimiation of the Buddhist Dzungars, Islam became the predominant religion in the area. The Qing Dynasty officially proclaimed this area as part of China in 1759 and named as Xinjiang Province in 1884. After the Nationalists over threw the Qing Dynasty, the region fell into a state of chaos, as regional warlord Sheng Shicai assumed power and allied himself with the Soviet Union before switching allegiances to the ROC under the Kuomingtang.

In 1949, 6% of the Xinjiang’s population was Han Chinese. Today, that number of closer to 42% as Mao’s government put in place a mass migration to Xinjiang and with it the CCP’s policies of wiping out any trace of cultural identity or religion that threatened the Party. The Communist government renamed the area as the “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” but it is as much “autonomous” as The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea is “democratic”.

The CCP used the “war on terror” in 2001 to justify its crackdowns on Uyghurs. Bear in mind that this was around the same time that Presidents Clinton and Bush were enthusiastically pushing the United States into permanent most favored nation trading status that would change all of our lives.

What’s Happening Today in Xinjiang?

Our government and some NGOs have actually done a pretty good job at documenting what’s going on in Xinjiang. Here are some sobering statistics:

I could go on, of course. The problem, though, is that in the last 10 years, the vast majority of humans have NOT read any of those reports. Instead, this is what they see.

On TikTok:

On Quora:

On Facebook:

The problem, of course, is that for every one person who takes the time to read a white paper from Human Rights Watch, there are MILLIONS of people watching these videos put out by “useful idiots” who unwittingly (or wittingly) put out propaganda for the Chinese Communist Party.

The problem, of course, is that there are no images, videos, and accounts from within the re-education camp of Xinjiang. Which means that they don’t exist, at least as far as the 4 billion people on Facebook, TikTok and X are concerned.

There are Palestinian Arabs in Israel who are perfectly happy. Imagine what would happen if Israel took videos of them dancing, laughing, and praising the government of Israel. There’s be a backlash you wouldn’t believe. Why, then, do millions of Americans look at these videos without the slightest bit of critical thought.

Boycotting Xinjiang Cotton

I am normally not a fan of “cancel culture” when it is used in a free society to silence political debate, especially among individuals. It’s lazy, it’s illiberal, and worst of all, it’s annoying.

However, I am a fan of boycotts to send a message to powerful forces when they persist in using their power in suppressing truth and justice. I believe that was true in the case of the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, and I believe it in the case of Xinjiang cotton.

Here’s how the boycott of Xinjiang cotton went down:

  • May 16, 2019 – The Wall Street Journal publishes an explosive article that calls out Uyghur persecution and names names: Adidas, H&M, Kraft Heinz, Coca-Cola, and Gap. Other news organizations follow.
  • October 17, 2019 – Nury Turkel testifies to Congess about forced labor, mass internment, and social control in Xinjiang.
  • October 31, 2019 – In the wake of these reports many brands continue to double-down on their use of Xinjiang cotton. Worse, they start to “brand” Xinjiang cotton as superior cotton, like “Australian down” and “French linen”.
  • March 1, 2020 – The Australian Strategic Policy Institute releases a report detailing 82 brands that source from Xinjiang, with detailed descriptions of Nike and Apple. They again mention H&M.
  • October 23, 2020 – H&M issues this statement distancing themselves from Xinjiang, as did many other brands identified in those reports.
    • March 25, 2021 – China makes H&M an example by cancelling H&M. The message to all Western companies: any brand that insults China will be denied access to China’s market and be isolated, ridiculed, and made an example of by the government and its millions of social media zombies. Sure enough, H&M’s revenue in China plunged by 40%, falling short close to $80 million in losses.
    • Predictably, many of the brands who were speaking out were suddenly sillent. They scrub their Web sites to remove mention of China or Xinjiang, instead using generic phrases like “we avoid forced labor in our supply chain”.
  • January 13, 2021 – President Trump issues a ban on imports of cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang.
  • December 23, 2021 – Congress passes the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which is signed by President Biden.
  • June 21, 2022 – The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act goes into effect, prohibiting business with entities in Xinjiang named on this list.

That’s great, right? That’s how the media is supposed to work.

However, why is it then that in 2023, China remains the world’s leading cotton producer, with 90% of China cotton being produced in Xinjiang?

This article does a nice job of describing why. If you purchase a piece of clothing that says “Made in Vietnam”, “Made in Cambodia” or “Made in Bangladesh”, chances are that these were made with Xinjiang cotton. Reuters reported that even with the ban of Xinjiang cotton in place, there’s still a fair amount of Xinjiang cotton getting through based on isotopic analysis (which can detect the “fingerprint” of a fiber).

So it’s not enough to avoid “Made in China”. We need companies to police themselves and if they won’t, for our government to police them.

What else does Xinjiang produce? How do we boycott them?

Unfortunately, when you look at other goods that Xinjiang is producing, it’s almost impossible to organize a boycott around them.

C4ADS put together one of the best synopses of what goods from Xinjiang are entering the supply chain.


While most attention has been focused on Xinjiang cotton, it’s Xinjiang’s production of polysilicon that really should concern everyone. Polysilicon is a necessary material in production of solar cells, and 40% of the world’s production happens in Xinjiang. No matter what country a solar cell is made, chances are that it went through Xinjiang. I personally love the promise of solar power, but as we jump out of the frying pan that is our dependence on foreign oil, are we jumping into dependence on Xinjiang?

Calcium Carbide

Xinjiang controls 22% of the global production. This is the perfect raw material for China to “hide in plain site” because no consumer knows nor care what it does. In Xinjiang it’s used in the production of other raw materials like rayon and PVCs that make their way into the global supply chain.


Xinjiang represents 19% of the world’s production of cotton (or 90% of China’s output). As we outlined above, the consumer boycotts aren’t really touching Xinjiang farmers, partly because of the CCP’s PR machine, but partly because there are plenty of buyers for their cotton that fall under the radar.

Tomato Paste and Products

Xinjiang represents 25% of the world’s production of tomato products (70% of China’s production) . Heinz and Coca-Cola were called out in the ASPI’s report, but their PR departments wiggled them out of any trouble by pointing out that China tomatoes only go to products sold in Asian markets. However, if there were no scrutiny placed on their sourcing practices, do you think for a second they wouldn’t screw over American farmers in favor of tomatoes produced by slave laborers on polluted land?


Xinjiang produces 11% of the world’s production of peppers. This doesn’t sound like a scary statistic until you realize that China grows 90% of the world’s paprika, 46% of red chili.


Xinjiang produces 11% of the world’s production of walnuts. Again, this has fallen under the radar since their walnuts are primarily used domestically or exported to countries like Japan, Australia, and the UK (and shame on citizens of those countries for allowing it).


Rayon is a synthetic fiber, and Xinjiang produces 10% of the world’s supply. Worse, Xinjiang rayon is used as a raw material in countries like Brazil, India, and Turkey. So if you buy a piece of clothes that says “Made in Brazil” and it contains synthetic fibers there’s a chance it came from Xinjiang. And unlike cotton, there are no forensics to detect it.


As you can see, boycotting Xinjiang products is not as a simple as isolating a brand and shaming them into not using them. That’s not to say boycotts aren’t useful—publicly isolating and shaming companies like Apple and Nike have certainly brought positive changes to their practices.

But ultimately, we need the power of government to instill our values into corporations if those corporations insist on continuing their sociopathic focus on profits and bonuses for their executives on the backs of their fellow humans around the world.

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