China needs to improve its human rights, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday, adding that global anti-China sentiment would last for the next 15 years.
Ko was responding to reporters’ questions about a recent Xinjiang cotton controversy.
Swedish fashion retailer H&M faced a backlash in China when social media users circulated a statement it made last year announcing that it would no longer source cotton from Xinjiang due to reports that Uighurs were being used as forced labor there.
Photo: Cheng Ming-hsiang, Taipei Times
Several global retail giants, including Adidas, Nike, Puma and Uniqlo, also face boycotts in China over the issue.
Many Chinese artists, as well as Taiwanese artists who were brand ambassadors, have terminated their contracts with the companies as a show of support for China.
“The trade war between the US and China will certainly continue, but China still has to improve its human rights” record, Ko said.
“Anti-China sentiment will still be a global trend for the next 15 years,” he added.
“I don’t know what China is trying to do,” but Taiwanese are not happy with whatever China is doing to the nation, including its unilateral decision to ban imports of pineapples from Taiwan, frequently having Chinese aircraft enter Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and not allowing Taiwan to enter the WHO, Ko said.
Separately, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), who was pictured wearing a pair of avant-garde Nike x Sacai VaporWaffle sneakers in an online post last month, was asked whether he would continue wearing Nike shoes.
He responded that he did not feel the need to stop.
“Human rights is a universal value, so many countries are very concerned about the forced labor of Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region and their human rights. Chinese authorities should explain the situation and clarify their concerns, rather than stir up nationalism as its response to global society,” he said.
On Saturday, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said on Facebook that “freedom, democracy, human rights and prosperity are the principles and values that the KMT holds in its view on cross-strait and international controversies.”
“Whether it be the Han people, Uighurs or other ethnic minorities, labor rights and religious rights should be guaranteed and respected,” he said.
People in Taiwan have very limited knowledge about what is happening in Xinjiang, so Chinese authorities and the parties concerned should make information transparent, enabling more people to understand the working and living conditions of cotton farmers in Xinjiang, which would help resolve the debate, he said.
Stirring up nationalist rhetoric or reprimanding or boycotting others is not helpful, nor can it help improve the human rights, and living and labor conditions of Uighurs, he said.
Additional reporting by Lin Liang-sheng
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