Additionally, the US company said it would no longer source products from “this region of China.”
Reacting to the news Thursday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang would not comment on the specific case, but said that “if this company … cut off its trade dealings with China based on wrong information, then I believe it is such a pity for this company.”
“China has abolished the reeducation through labor system,” Lu added. “Xinjiang’s vocational skills and education training is totally different from the ‘forced labor’ alleged by some parties.”
Interviewees spoke with gratitude of the opportunities provided by the camps, and said they would have succumbed to “extremism” if not for the government’s intervention.
However, former detainees able to speak more freely have complained of being separated from their families, held for indefinite periods of time and forced to endure intensive “brainwashing” sessions, including close study of Communist Party propaganda.
Reports about the camps were initially denied by Beijing, but the government has since pivoted to a vocal defense of the policy as necessary for national security and ethnic harmony.
“Today’s Xinjiang is not only beautiful but also safe and stable. No matter where they are or at what time of the day, people are no longer afraid of going out, shopping, dining and traveling,” Shohrat Zakir, a high-ranking Xinjiang government official, told state-run news agency Xinhua in October.
“There is still a long way to go for southern Xinjiang to eradicate the environment and soil of terrorism and religious extremism.”
Kazakh Foreign Ministry representatives did not respond to multiple requests from CNN for comment.
Increasing pressure on Muslims in China has led to a growing backlash from the Islamic world, including in countries that traditionally have strong ties with Beijing.
Also last month, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a grouping of Muslim states, warned the situation in Xinjiang showed evidence “rising discrimination on the basis of … religion.”
CNN’s Steven Jiang contributed reporting from Beijing.