France probes claims that retailers used forced Uyghur labour

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into alleged involvement in crimes against humanity based on claims that global retailers, including Uniqlo and the makers of Skechers shoes and Zara clothes, rely on forced labour of minorities in China’s Xinjiang region.

The Chinese government on Friday reiterated denials of any forced labour in Xinjiang, and lashed out at what it called interference in its internal affairs.

The investigation was opened last month by the crimes against humanity unit of France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office, a judicial official said Friday. The office has special universal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes beyond French borders.

The probe was based on a legal complaint filed in France earlier this year by a Uyghur worker in exile and three human rights groups: Sherpa, the Uyghur Institute of Europe and Ethics on the Label Collective.