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BEIJING - China has launched its own 'sustainable' cotton certification programme as it continues its campaign against western criticism over the alleged use of forced labour in the Xinjiang region.

In recent months, China has seen a political and consumer backlash against concerns publicly declared by brands and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) - the world's largest sustainable cotton programme - about the use of forced labour by imprisoned Uyghur Muslims in the region which supplies a fifth of the world's cotton.

The Global Times, a daily tabloid under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party's flagship People's Daily newspaper, now reports that the China Cotton Association (CCA), along with other industry organisations, has officially launched a new body, the Cotton China Sustainable Development Programme.

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