As both the world’s largest cotton producer and a major consumer of cotton, China is a key country for Better Cotton. Sustainable cotton production is a major challenge here, with 24 million farmers depending on cotton cultivation to earn a living and the environmental footprint this represents.

A BCI Representative Office was registered in Shanghai in May 2012 and is recognised in China as a Swiss Trade Association. This structure was chosen to help guarantee the success of Better Cotton in China.

Who grows Better Cotton?

In the 2017-18 season, 79,093 licensed BCI Farmers in China produced 1,188,000 metric tonnes of Better Cotton lint on 524,000 hectares. BCI Farmers in China are organised into large farms that are either renting land from the state or from rural collective economic organisation.

Who are BCI’s Implementing Partners in China?

BCI works with a number of Implementing Partners in China including: Solidaridad China; Cotton Connect China; Songzi Agriculture Technology Promotion Center; Binzhou Nongxi Cooperative; Yuli Zhong Wang Industry and Trade Company; Guoxin Rural Technical Service Association; Xinjiang Luthai Fengshou Cotton Industry Company; Akesu Jintian Farm Company; Yuli County Zhongliang Cotton Company; HuaFu Top Dyed Melange Yarn Company; Shandong Huitong Textile Company; Xinjiang Taichang Industrial Company; Changzhou Keteng Textile Company

When is cotton grown in China?

In China, cotton is sown throughout the month of April and harvested from September to November.

Stories from the Field

Find out how a Chinese co-op in Xinjiang is helping more than 275 smallholder farmers to raise their yields and profits. Read more here.

Climate Change Resilience Series: Helping BCI Farmers in China Conserve Water and Raise Yields Despite Extreme Weather.

Update on Xinjiang

October 2019

BCI is aware of reports from civil society organisations and media that include accusations of involuntary labour from ethnoreligious minorities (including Uighurs) during or following internment in “re-education camps” in the Xinjiang province of Western China. To date, there is no direct evidence that demonstrates that forced labour is being used on BCI licensed farms in Xinjiang.

Since respective reports were brought to BCI’s attention and after careful consideration, the BCI Council has determined that a continued presence and engagement in the region promoting the Better Cotton Standard System, and its principles of social, environmental and economic sustainability, would continue to benefit local farmers. Thus, BCI’s activities in the region should be pursued. The Council has requested that the BCI Secretariat puts in place a concrete action plan to identify, and if necessary, mitigate and manage risks related to the credible implementation of the Better Cotton Standard System while also safeguarding the BCI China team’s ability to operate successfully according to BCI’s mission.

To that end, the BCI Secretariat has, in consultation with the BCI Council, developed a roadmap that includes two key phases. The first phase delivers a third-party analysis of the situation by mid-December 2019. The analysis will be complemented with a list of recommendations for Better Cotton Standard System improvements.

The second phase is designed to use the initial report findings and revise Better Cotton Standard System policies and procedures with the aim of preventing and detecting forced labour. The scope of the revision will be based on the findings of phase one and will likely include:

  • Policies and procedures for licensing BCI Farmers as well as endorsement and management of on-the-ground partners (Implementing Partners);
  • Adaptation of the Better Cotton Decent Work Principle and Criteria; and
  • An enhanced approach to confirming that the membership code of practice is adhered to.

The second phase of the roadmap will begin in January 2020 and will be completed by the end of that year. Amendments to the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria may take longer to implement, and if that is the case, the timeline will be updated and communicated to members.

Over the course of the next fifteen months, as activities of the roadmap are executed, the BCI Secretariat will regularly share progress reports with its Council and members and update the BCI website as appropriate.