The ABC has obtained video footage showing a factory in China’s Xinjiang region making clothes for one of America’s biggest retailers — but the company in question claims the footage has been “spliced”.
- The video shows pants sold by the US retailer Kohl’s being made in Xinjiang
- Kohl’s questioned the video’s accuracy and said the footage was “spliced”
- The Chinese firm making the clothes has an “education and training centre” factory
A promotional video for the Chinese clothing manufacturer Golden Future showed employees at its factory in Xinjiang making stretch pants for the label Croft & Barrow.
Croft & Barrow is owned by the American retail giant Kohl’s, and the pants are sold at its 1,150 stores across the United States.
According to Chinese state media, Golden Future also has a factory inside an “education and training centre” — a term officials use to describe Xinjiang’s mass detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
It’s unclear whether the factory in the education camp are also making the same American goods as seen in the Golden Future promotional video, despite them both being Golden Future factories in the same region.
This week’s episode of Four Corners detailed mounting evidence of forced labour stemming from these camps, including in newly built textile factories across Xinjiang.
Target Australia and Cotton On told Four Corners they used cotton yarn sourced from Xinjiang, and that they were now investigating their suppliers in the region.
The state media report on Golden Future said it set up a “branch factory” inside the Kashgar Education and Training Centre in September last year.
The company was reportedly employing more than 500 people there, teaching them vocational skills and supporting “their future integration into society”.
Foreign journalists have previously received guided tours of a detention camp known as the “Kashgar Vocational Education and Training Centre”, however it is not clear if this was the same facility.
The ABC contacted Golden Future’s offices in Kashgar multiple times but the company declined to comment on the factories, and whether its workers there were Uyghur detainees.
Kohl’s says factory not in Xinjiang despite satellite evidence
Satellite imagery and other publicly available information suggests the promotional video was shot at Golden Future’s main factory, located in an industrial park north of Kashgar, Xinjiang.
External shots of the factory from the promotional video show it has distinctive triangular windows, with a series of archways at the bottom — the same patterns are evident in satellite photos of Golden Future’s factory in Kashgar.
Footage shot inside the factory appears to show the same facility: employees are seen working in front of triangle-shaped windows, while wearing Golden Future’s orange and grey uniforms.
In some shots, the windows, the uniforms and the pants bearing Croft & Barrow’s logo are visible at the same time — however a Kohl’s spokesperson told the ABC the video was “not accurate”, and used “spliced footage”.
“[The video] shows factory footage from a different, reputable factory that is not in the Xinjiang area,” the spokesperson said.
“Golden Future, who issued the promotional video, has confirmed their error and stated that the footage was taken by a rogue employee.”
The spokesperson said Golden Future had apologised to Kohl’s, and had taken the video down — the video had been online since February 2018 and was only taken down recently following questions by the ABC.
“Kohl’s does not and has not had operations in the Xinjiang province of China,” they said.
The ABC asked Kohl’s about the similarities between the factory shown in the video and the satellite images of Golden Future’s Kashgar facility, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
The company declined to say whether the goods shown in the video went on to be sold in the United States.
Golden Future has previously failed an audit by global sportswear company Decathlon who Golden Future claimed to work with in their promotional video.
It appears to be the largest imprisonment of people on the basis of religion since the Holocaust: More than a million people have been rounded up, detained and forcibly indoctrinated by the Chinese Government.
Xavier Rivoire, Decathlon’s head of corporate communication, told the ABC the company had preliminary discussions with Golden Future last year — however it “decided not to work with this supplier in any shape or form”.
“[Decathlon] conveyed over there some audits … and it was noticed some points that did not respect our Code of Conduct,” he said.
Mr Rivoire did not elaborate on what exactly Decathlon discovered during their audits.
UNIQLO, another company Golden Future claimed to supply, said it did not have any business relationship with the company in Xinjiang or anywhere else in China.