China is creating an alternative standard for BCI cotton

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A farmer harvests cotton in Hami, China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Getty Images.

According to state media reports, China will soon launch its own version of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) standard.

A Beijing-based cotton service provider, Zhongnong Guoji, who is also responsible for the Xinjiang Digital Cotton Research Center, is leading the initiative, in partnership with the China Fashion Association and the Ministry of Finance-backed Modern Seed Industry Development Fund.

“After years of pressure under BCI standards, we just want to build our own cotton brand to gain a much greater say in the cotton and textile industry,” said Luo Yan, Secretary General of the Xinjiang Digital Cotton Research Center.

According to Luo, the cotton program will mainly focus on “improving production efficiency through digitization, a fully traceable cotton production process, low-carbon production and high-quality cotton cultivation.”

BCI withdrew from China’s Xinjiang region in 2020, citing ongoing allegations of forced labor, and BCI’s affiliation has led a number of international fashion brands to become the target of boycotts in China in the past month.