In the Xinjiang region of western China, a network of internment camps holds up to 1 million detainees, mostly Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. The ruling Communist Party bills the camps as “education and training” centers for people “influenced by extremism.” By laboring on the production lines, Beijing claims, the detainees can work their way out of poverty, join modern China, and avoid being turned into religious radicals.

But as the Associated Press and New York Times (paywall) report in separate investigations, a growing body of evidence shows the camps are also a source of forced, cheap labor to make products such as clothing, at least some of which is exported. The AP says it has tracked “recent, ongoing shipments from one such factory inside an internment camp to Badger Sportswear,” which supplies clothing to the bookstores and sports teams of numerous US universities, such as Texas A&M, University of Pennsylvania, Appalachian State University, and many more.

In the Xinjiang region of western China, a network of internment camps holds up to 1 million detainees, mostly Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. The ruling Communist Party bills the camps as “education and training” centers for people “influenced by extremism.” By laboring on the production lines, Beijing claims, the detainees can work their way out of poverty, join modern China, and avoid being turned into religious radicals.

But as the Associated Press and New York Times (paywall) report in separate investigations, a growing body of evidence shows the camps are also a source of forced, cheap labor to make products such as clothing, at least some of which is exported. The AP says it has tracked “recent, ongoing shipments from one such factory inside an internment camp to Badger Sportswear,” which supplies clothing to the bookstores and sports teams of numerous US universities, such as Texas A&M, University of Pennsylvania, Appalachian State University, and many more.

The AP couldn’t confirm whether workers at the factory received pay, or were free to come and go. But a dozen people who had been detained in an internment camp, or had family or friends in one, all told the AP that factory work was mandatory. Payment varied greatly. Some were paid nothing at all. Others earned just above the minimum wage, which starts at 1,460 yuan per month (around $210) before deductions in Xianjing. Some of those forced onto the production lines, they said, previously held professional jobs that paid 10 times as much. A similar picture of life in the camps emerged from the Times’s investigation.

It seems that clothing is becoming a focus of the internment camp labor programs: Xinjiang’s provincial government announced a plan in April to attract garment and textile makers, promising subsidies to train inmates.