Trade between the EU and China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) reached historic levels in 2020 despite Western claims of alleged human rights abuses in the region, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Wednesday.
European and Chinese businesses traded heavily in textile machinery components and tomatoes, among others, the report read.
The news comes as the EU and China cemented a landmark trade deal in late December amid protests from Washington and its regional allies.
Numerous groups have voiced concern over the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) inked in principle between the two powerhouses, citing a Human Rights Watch report alleging forced labour camps in Xinjiang.
According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese customs records revealed trade grew rapidly in 2020, with German components for textile machinery reaching $41.2m in 2020, up 2,763 percent since recording began in 2017.
Switzerland, the second highest customer for the westermost region, exported roughly $680,279 in goods.
The news comes after several Five Eyes nations launched campaigns against China via human rights allegations.
The US sanctioned the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), numerous firms and three officials in August last year, becoming the largest case in history for the US Treasury office, citing forced labour concerns.
The UK House of Lords also amended a law on trade in early February potentially deals with countries accused of genocide and human rights abuses in Xinjiang, with Lords voting 359 to 188 in favour to pass the measure.
An open letter from Canada signed by 180 MPs and human rights groups called for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing with similar concerns, sparking backlash from officials from Chinese media.
Beijing could “seriously sanction” countries boycotting the event, Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin said at the time.
The EU was urged not to be influenced by other nations in its trade relations with China, a top official said in early January, adding relations should advance “towards win-win cooperation”.
Chinese president Xi Jinping also urged global leaders to avoid sparking a “New Cold War” at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.
President Xi also called on the Chinese people in a speech last year to protect the nation from foreign forces attempting to separate the Chinese people from the ruling Communist Party, namely amid Washington’s trade war with Beijing.