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屡遭外媒诋毁的新疆棉花产业究竟如何?CGTN带你走进新疆“中国棉城”

新疆是我国最大的棉花产区——每年,全国超过80%的棉花都产自这里。

一个解决就业,减轻贫困的产业,却屡屡成为外媒的标靶受到诋毁,甚至被诬陷为“劳改营”、“奴工农场”。

真实的新疆棉花产业,究竟如何?

这一次,CGTN记者来到了新疆阿克苏地区素有“中国棉城”之称的阿瓦提县,走进棉花工人的日常生活。

China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has been rife with controversy over the years as security had been stepped up to tackle sporadic terrorist attacks. Accusations regarding government policies in the region are manifold, with the latest being poverty alleviation programs are actually fronts for employing forced labor in cotton mills. However, CGTN's latest trip to the region paints a very different picture.

Xinjiang provides over 80 percent of China's cotton. Since this cash crop is a lucrative business, big factories and processing plants have popped up, many of which are affiliates of established companies from the more affluent inland.

A cotton and textile factory in Awat County, Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang, China, January 5, 2020. /CGTN Photo

许多企业在这里建设工厂。靠近原材料产地让他们节省了成本,同时也让当地的劳动力在冬季赋闲时节能有一份活计。

比如总部位于河南的新野纺织。公司设于阿瓦提县的工厂从2010年6月建成至今,已经运营了9年。全厂共有三个车间,200多名员工,已经实现了100%机械化生产。

Xinfa Cotton Industry Company – located in Awat, a county under southern Xinjiang's Aksu Prefecture – is one of the largest cotton processing plants in this "Town of Cotton." Awat produces one fifth of the world's long-staple cotton with silkier, lustrous and more durable fibers, filling markets from Europe to North America.

Established by a textile corporation headquartered in central China's Henan Province a decade ago, Xinfa so far has over 200 employees, mostly locals. "When we came from Henan to purchase cotton back then, we found that having a factory here, much closer to the source of supplies, could help us save costs and haulage time," said Liao Yongfeng, head of the factory's commodity department. The move has also increased the income of local villagers who can't find employment in the winter after harvest season.

Aytlam Mamt talks to CGTN outside her factory, Awat County, Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang, January 5, 2020. /CGTN Photo

从2010年开始在工厂工作的阿伊特拉木•马木提,是一名细线班的班长。

今年35岁的她,每个月在扣除五险一金后,可以拿到2800-3000元左右的工资——这份工作既让她摆脱了家庭主妇的身份,还为她的家庭增加了收入。

而对于阿提坎木•库万来说,在工厂工作的工资不仅提高了家庭的生活水平,更让她的孩子可以接受到更好的教育。

One of them, Aytlam Mamt, started working here in 2010. Now responsible for leading one of the mills, she makes 2,800-3,000 yuan after tax each month. "I had worked in a textile plant before I got married, so I chose to come here when my son was six years old as I'm already quite familiar with the whole manufacturing process," the 35-year-old woman told CGTN.

If working in the mill means staying away from being a housewife and boosting household income, it means a lot more for Atkenm Kuwan, who started working as a knitter at Xinfa this April. Before that, she was a sanitation worker with a monthly income of 960 yuan, which, on top of her husband's monthly income of roughly the same amount, could hardly make ends meet.

"Now I have 2,300-2,500 per month. That's a big help for my family, especially to the education of my children. I have extra savings for them to take extracurricular classes now," Atkenm said. She noted that her biggest dream is to give a good education to her two kids, and then to buy a car like her colleagues. "I heard some of my colleagues used to come to work by bicycle or moped, but now they drive to work."

Atkenm Kuwan at work, January 5, 2020. /CGTN Photo

Employees work 12-hour shifts and then rest for the following 24 hours. "Though the job requires a lot of energy, I can get enough rest during the next day and attend to many other things," said Aytlam.

Training people to process cotton requires significant time and resources. The tremendous effort that has gone into Xinfa's employees, however, seems to have paid off. Most of them have worked at the company for years, according to Liao.

Many of them attend to the outsized machines responsible for much of the labor. The entire process is mechanized, with most of the equipment made domestically and the rest imported from Europe. Once ready to leave the factory floor, cotton products, notably threads in Xinfa's case, are delivered to coastal metropolises including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanghai for subsequent export to clients in Europe and the U.S.

Knitting machines in Xinfa factory, Awat County, January 5, 2020. /CGTN Photo

中美贸易战和西方媒体对新疆的集火都对当地的棉花产业造成了一定的压力。但是,这里的人们有着长远的目光——要顶住压力,提高生产技能,降低成本。

目前,产量和销售额并未下降,而生产也一如往常。

The China-U.S. trade war and media scrutiny surrounding Xinjiang, however, have put pressure on the local cotton industry. Global retailers who had previously sourced some of its cotton from Xinjiang, such as Gap and sportswear giant Adidas, were named in media investigations alleging that their products were made from involuntary labor in the region.

Despite these firestorms, Xinfa and other cotton producers in the region are eyeing further growth, hoping to reduce overheads while continuously improving their technology. "For now, sales and production volume have not dropped, and everything is business as usual," Liao noted.

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