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Credit: BCI.com via Wayback Machine

Last year, an international cotton watchdog organization announced it was ceasing all operations in Xinjiang amid reports of widespread forced labor. That statement has now disappeared from the organization's website as backlash grows in China against international attempts to boycott Xinjiang cotton.

The big picture: The Chinese government is pressuring foreign companies and organizations to stay silent on repression in Xinjiang, or in some cases, to even actively promote Xinjiang-made products.

What's happening: The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a Europe-based nonprofit, has recently faced pressure to rescind its October 2020 announcement that it was enacting a policy of "responsible disengagement" and pulling out of Xinjiang.

  • In late March, the Chinese state-affiliated Global Times ran a series of articles lambasting BCI for ceasing its Xinjiang operations.
  • On March 26, BCI's Shanghai branch said that it had found no evidence of forced labor in the Xinjiang cotton industry.

Driving the news: Major global clothing retailers including H&M and Adidas have recently faced a state-fanned consumer boycott in China over their previous statements disavowing Xinjiang cotton.

Background: A growing body of evidence indicates that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs may be working under coerced conditions in the Xinjiang cotton industry, amid a campaign of repression including mass internment and forced sterilization of Muslim minorities.

  • The U.S. has banned imports of all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang.

What they're saying: "We will not be providing input on this at the moment," BCI spokesperson Joe Woodruff told Axios in an email.

  • When asked in a follow-up email if BCI now believed there was no forced labor in the Xinjiang cotton industry and if BCI would be resuming operations there, Woodruff did not respond.

Go deeper: Global textile watchdogs struggled to raise alarms in Xinjiang

Go deeper

Why the Fed might want to jolt the markets

Fed chair Jerome Powell at a hearing earlier this month. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

So far, financial markets are cooperating nicely with the Federal Reserve's efforts to restrain inflation. They're doing the Fed's work for it by creating tighter financial conditions, in a distinctly non-panicky way.

  • But as the central bank's policymakers meet this week, an underlying question they face is whether the adjustment is happening too slowly.
Kate Marino, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Omicron outbreaks were bad for business in January

Data: New York Federal Reserve Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

Emerging anecdotal evidence shows just how hard the recent rise in COVID-19 cases hit businesses in early January — but that hasn't hurt some business leaders’ longer-term views of their companies' prospects.

Why it matters: Increasingly, the economic recovery has come in fits and starts that move in tandem with new peaks in cases. Look no further than the thousands of canceled flights and shuttered Broadway theaters in the wake of the Omicron variant's spread over the last few months.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

The shifting definition of fully vaccinated

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The definition of what it means to be "fully vaccinated" is evolving even as the CDC has remained careful not to change it officially.

Why it matters: CDC officials have been balancing the job of convincing Americans who've already gotten two doses of the importance of boosters with getting many Americans who still need their first doses to get their shots at all.