Published: 17:51, April 18, 2021 | Updated: 18:55, June 4, 2023
Xinjiang's cotton production facilitate poverty relief
By Khalid Taimur Akram

As one of the largest and leading cotton producers in the world, China produces 30 per cent of the world's cotton, with its Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region becoming the fifth largest producer and distributor of cotton to the globe.

Over the past decades, Chinese textile industry has grown rapidly to become one of the leading industries globally. An optimal institutional arrangement to facilitate Chinese firms to upgrade horizontally and functionally has led to the emergence of the clothing/textile sector. 

Over the past decades, Chinese textile industry has grown rapidly to become one of the leading industries globally. An optimal institutional arrangement to facilitate Chinese firms to upgrade horizontally and functionally has led to the emergence of the clothing/textile sector

The robust system was started by the authorities’ decision to open up the transformation process, including industrial upgrading. Furthermore, broader use of digital technologies has proliferated extensively into clothing manufacturing. These factors have pushed this sector toward the technology frontier and a modernized economy. 

Xinjiang’s cotton production is of relatively high yield and good quality, accounting for more than four fifth of China’s domestic total and growing into an important producing area of upland cotton and sea-island cotton in the world with perfect cultivation and management technology.

The area of Xinjiang is the most appropriate cotton-planting region in China. It has the largest cultivation scale, the highest yield, the most advantageous output to input, and the greatest development potential. The technological advancement has paved the way for more efficient cotton production in the autonomous region. 

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The techniques include "dwarf, dense, early" core technology and its supporting technologies. For example, film mulching, selection of appropriate cultivars, drip irrigation technology and fruit-cotton intercropping. To get maximum advantages out of these systems, resources from soil and water and use of local light are essential elements to overcome the deficiencies of ecological climate in the cotton field of Xinjiang. These factors are ensuring the attainment of quality cotton and sustainable yield.

The technological system of cotton planting has significant relevance and value for cotton production in other states. For twenty-one consecutive years, the per capita amount of cotton, total yield, per unit area yield, commodity export rate, and transfer amount in Xinjiang have ranked first in the country. Therefore, it has attracted wide range of experts and investors at domestic and international levels.

For China to be one of the countries with the highest unit yield of cotton globally, intensive farming technologies have played a crucial role, enhancing its potential. It is possible due to the adoption of certain cultural practices and intensive farming technologies, including seedling transplanting, adaptation of improved varieties, plastic mulching, double cropping, drip irrigation, plastic mulching, plant pruning, and super-high plant density technique.

Furthermore, apart from sound irrigation system, moderate clay and sandy soil, light loam, deep strata, loose soil texture, and flat land near deserts, Xinjiang has developed and popularized some types of machinery for soil preparation, seeding, plant protection, and straw returning in cotton production.

With relevance to farming and cultural system, the cotton yield has a bright prospect in the near future and the demand for Xinjiang cotton has been on a path of expansion.

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However, amid the Western misinformation campaigns of politicizing Xinjiang’s cotton, some big international firms have raised concerns over the sources of cotton production. The leading brands which stop cotton purchases from Xinjiang include H&M, Gap, Nike, Adidas, Zara, and Ikea.

While Western media mostly blow small incidents out of proportion and give extraordinary coverage to false news, these fabricated stories are focused to gain sympathies of Muslim countries engaged in Belt and Road Initiative against the rising Chinese economy.

In fact, the earnings from cotton have helped Uygur and other Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang rise above poverty as China announced to have eliminated abject poverty in the autonomous region and the whole of China by the end of 2020. The employment level is stable and a large number of job opportunities have been created by the startling policies of Chinese leadership.

Moreover, dis-engaging and restricting China’s cotton supply chains over false allegation and smearing by the West would be detrimental for the cotton availability in the international market.

According to United Nations trade data, almost two-third of the clothing sold in Australian stores is manufactured in China. For some cotton products, China’s share is much greater than the average. About 80 per cent of men’s undergarments, 90 per cent of handkerchiefs and almost 98 per cent of some cotton fabric categories come from China. Furthermore, it is also estimated that about 4 per cent of Australia’s clothes are manufactured locally, and much of that use Chinese fabric and yarns. 

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In conclusion, the upgraded farming techniques, an advanced mechanism for agriculture productivity, and efficient workforce are the key factors in making China the world’s biggest producer and supplier of cotton. It is expected that in future, the growing industry of cotton in Xinjiang will develop further.  

It is believed that Xinjiang’s cotton has a good prospect with the support of new farming technologies.  Even with the ongoing fierce market competition, Beijing will utilize its existing potential, enhance cotton capacity and continue to supply it internationally with a high ratio. 

In this aspect, any meaningless allegations or claims by the Western countries to halt Xinjiang cotton supply or any false propaganda would have huge economic repercussions for the world as many Western states and leading international brands are heavily dependent on China’s cotton.

The author is Executive Director of the Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS) based in Islamabad.

The views do not necessarily represent those of China Daily.