URUMQI, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- The United States' signing of the so-called "Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act" into law was based on lies and misinformation concocted by certain anti-China forces, said scholars at a symposium in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The attendees said that this so-called act ignored Xinjiang's tremendous efforts to promote the employment of people of all ethnic groups, and aimed to strip the people of their right to pursue a better life.
"Due to harsh natural conditions and a weak industrial foundation, there was a serious surplus of rural labor in southern Xinjiang in the past," said Gulnal Ederas, associate professor at the law school of Xinjiang University. "Therefore, rural residents in southern Xinjiang, who had difficulties hunting for jobs, had long been trapped in poverty."
Over the years, governments at all levels in Xinjiang have strived to help the poor shake off poverty by transferring workforce across the region to other provinces and municipalities, noted Gulnal Ederas.
"Over the years, many ethnic minority workers in Xinjiang have worked in developed areas in eastern and central China. They've mastered new skills, broadened horizons and improved their living standards," Gulnal Ederas said.
But these effective measures were vilified by the U.S. government and some western media as "forced labor." "Ethnic minorities in Xinjiang work out of their own free will, and it is their right and freedom to pursue a better life," said Sabina Mutallip, a lecturer at Xinjiang Normal University.