“This is the first admission that they are really suffering huge economic losses,” said Zenz. “Sue an academic – there is an element of despair there.” The lawsuit comes as Zenz and other researchers are building a case that Beijing’s treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang conforms to the definition of “genocide” under the Geneva Conventions. Countries imposed economic sanctions on Xinjiang over the past year in response to evidence documented by researchers, including Zenz, of a widespread campaign of detention and forced labor targeting Uighur Muslims in the region. The sanctions include a blanket ban on cotton from the region, which accounts for 87 percent of the cotton grown in China, and Zenz, a German, began researching conditions in Xinjiang several years ago as an independent researcher, and since 2019 as a senior colleague. At the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a US-based nonprofit, Tianshannet Chinese state media reported late Monday that unnamed companies had filed a lawsuit in Xinjiang against Zenz. The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed this on Tuesday, and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a routine briefing on Tuesday, “Many companies and residents in Xinjiang have suffered heavy losses after Zenz’s rumor of” forced labor “came out of nowhere. “They hate and abhor these malicious slanderous acts,” said Donald Clark, a professor of law at George Washington University. But he may have to hire a lawyer if Xinjiang companies try to seek enforcement of a ruling against him abroad. He will have to hire a lawyer to present these arguments, indicating the real threat to lawsuits like this: their ability to write Clarke books on the China Collection blog. Tianshant said the companies that brought the lawsuit had been hit by Zenz ” rumors’ of forced labor in the area and demanded that he apologize and restore their reputation. And compensation for its losses, and more companies and individuals may join the lawsuit.