Villager from Zhaosu County, Yili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture Julaiti Ai’erkenjiang
Recently, foreign companies such as H&M issued statements saying that they wouldn’t source cotton from Xinjiang on the grounds that Uygur and other ethnic minorities are “forced” to pick up cotton. This action is not only ridiculous but also a self-mockery for themselves.
I am a native minority farmer in Xinjiang. Even the villagers in our countryside know that cotton in Xinjiang is the best in the world. Xinjiang enjoys hundreds of years of cotton planting and picking history. Picking cotton is not only a way to live a better-off life but also a traditional craft. People who excel at picking cottons can make ten thousand yuan in just two months of the harvest season. This is a substantial amount of money for people in agricultural and pastoral areas. Why do we need to be “forced” to work?
In the past few years, dozens of people in my hometown have invited friends to go out to pick cotton in slack farming season. They have gained so many picking experience in the past years that they know well about where and when to pick cotton. And they are crystal-clear about the wages of the work.
They all make money through their own labor and get paid accordingly. For those who are exceedingly fast at picking cottons, they can earn nearly ten thousand yuan per month. My neighbor, Abuliejiang Aji and his wife are such excellent cotton-pickers in the village. If they just idle around at home, the time will slip by just the same. But if they choose to go out and pick cottons, a considerable income could be made. Many local people in my hometown have bettered their lives because of picking cotton.
Nowadays, although we still want to make money through picking cotton, the reality is that many of the cotton fields have employed machines to plant and harvest cotton. Therefore, the need for manual labor has dropped dramatically. Whenever we chat about our life today, Abuliejiang Aji always expresses his reminiscence about the cotton-picking experience in the past. He articulates that it was the money he earned from picking-cotton provided him the funds for breeding cattle and sheep. Having built a 120 square meters’ home and bought a car, he feels contented with his life now.
International companies like H&M, you need to stop your fantasy immediately! Xinjiang cotton has one of the best quality in the world and symbolizes the diligence of people in Xinjiang. And the spotless cotton brooks no slander. If you hope to denigrate the diligent work of Xinjiang people, you’d better stop your daydreaming and spare yourself from self-humiliating.