Awareness then action: public say stop forced Uyghur labour now

Why is the UK unaware of the Uyghur plight?


Some in the world’s media have been highlighting the worsening plight of the Uyghur people for almost a decade.

But faced by huge events, from the financial crisis to wars in the Middle East, the refugee crisis, Brexit, rise of the Islamic State, President Trump and now coronavirus and the George Floyd protests, the eyes of the international community have all-too-often been elsewhere.

This situation can’t be allowed to exist in the shadows. We are committed to bringing the Uyghur people’s suffering to light. First though we needed to know how much people knew about the ongoing state repression in China.

To support this campaign, HOPE not hate Charitable Trust commissioned polling to get a better picture of public awareness of the plight of the Uyghur people.

We were sad to discover that the majority of people (58%) were unaware of the reports of Chinese authorities imprisoning between one and three million Uyghurs in internment camps in an attempt to eradicate Uyghur culture and language. (2)

Almost three-quarters of people (72%) had no idea of the shocking fact that well-known brands, such as BMW, Google, Gap, Adidas, Nike and Jaguar cars use forced Uyghur labour in their Chinese factories, with only 10% having some knowledge of this shameful complicity.

However, once they were made aware, the public was adamant – an overwhelming 79% said Western companies should NOT be using forced Uyghur labour in their Chinese factories, with 62% saying they would reconsider buying clothing or a car if they knew it had been made by forced labour in China, and 23% were undecided.

The polling found unequivocal public backing for government action on this issue – 76% agreed that the international community should act together to force China to improve the human rights and individual freedoms of its citizens, and 67% disagreed with the idea that the human rights record of a country is of no importance to them with 54% objecting to the idea that a country’s human rights record should have no influence on the UK foreign policy.

The survey demonstrated to us exactly how vital it was that we campaign on this issue, and that our supporters help raise awareness of the human rights abuses in Xinjiang and press for action now.


  1. Fieldwork: Online polling commissioned by HNHCT and conducted 20th-21st May 2020 (Sample: 2,029 adults, sampled from across GB, weighted to be nationally representative) except as below
  2. Fieldwork: Online polling commissioned by HNHCT and conducted 22-26th May 2020 (Sample: 2001 adults, sampled from across GB, weighted to be nationally representative)