Seven Apple suppliers in China are accused of using forced Uyghur labor, a report for The Information reveals.
The companies in question include Advanced-Connectek, AcBel Polytech, Avary Holding, CN Innovations, Luxshare Precision Industry, Shenzhen Deren Electronic Co., and Suzhou Dongshan Precision Manufacturing Co.
All participated in what are referred to by the Chinese government as “poverty alleviation programs.” However, these may not be exactly how they sound.
“All state-sponsored labor recruitment programs in Xinjiang must be understood as compulsory labor because no minority citizen in the region has the ability to refuse to participate in the programs,” human rights professor Laura Murphy told the publication.
Apple told The Information that it looks “for the presence of forced labor is part of every assessment we conduct in every country where we do business.” It also says that it carried out recent investigations and found “no evidence of forced labor anywhere we operate.” But it noted that it will “continue doing all [Apple] can to protect workers and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.”
Profiting off forced labor in China
The programs in question are advertised as helping lift people out of poverty. However, it is also alleged that those who do not participate are jailed. The article (which is paywalled) notes that:
“[One of the companies,] Advanced-Connectek[,] has made unglamorous but critical computer components for Apple for more than a decade. For two of those years, it operated a factory inside an industrial park on the edge of the deserts of Xinjiang, a region of western China populated by a predominantly Muslim group known as Uyghurs. The industrial park is surrounded by walls and fences with only one way in or out.
And next to the park was a large compound identified by a satellite imagery researcher as a detention center where the factory workers lived. The researcher, Nathan Ruser, from an Australian think tank, said “almost no other factories in Xinjiang have these characteristics except for industrial parks where there is detainee labor.”
This isn’t the first time this accusation has been leveled against Apple. A March 2020 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute listed Apple as one of the companies that has benefited from labor transfer programs linked to Xinjiang. At the end of last year, the New York Times listed Apple as one of several large companies that reportedly lobbied to weaken an anti-forced Uighur labor bill.
Source: The Information