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Xinjiang cotton farmers refute "forced labor" rumors

File photo shows a worker busy working in a workshop of a textile company in Yuli County of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Aug. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Ding Lei)

URUMQI, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Yuli County in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region held a press conference on Tuesday at which cotton farmers refuted the rumors about "forced labor" in Xinjiang.

Nurali Vmar, a cotton farmer in the county, said he has eight tractors, a seed planter with navigation technology, as well as another eight small farming machines. "Just five people can manage about 67 hectares of cotton fields, thanks to highly mechanized operations," he said.

The county started cotton planting in the 1980s. Since then, the agricultural mechanization rate has exceeded 96 percent on its over 66,000 hectares of cotton fields.

Sami Yusup, a 26-year-old delivery person, works as the driver of cotton picker during the cotton harvest season. "I can earn over 10,000 yuan (about 1,550 U.S. dollars) each month as a cotton-picker driver, whereas my income as a delivery person is 5,000 yuan," he said.

Meanwhile, Vmarjan Barhan, a drone pilot, describes his job as "game-playing".

"I can spray pesticides on over 33 hectares of cotton fields a day, operating the drone on my smartphone, just like playing a video game," he said.

Arkin Rehim, another cotton farmer in the county, said he has deep feelings for cotton because it is the cotton that helps his family live the happy life they dreamed of.

"We will never allow anyone to smear Xinjiang or defile the cotton we have planted," he said. "I have confidence in Xinjiang cotton and will never give up planting it because of rumors."