BEIJING—Tens of thousands of ethnic Uyghurs were moved to work in conditions suggestive of “forced labor” in factories across China supplying 83 global brands, an Australian think tank said in a report released on Mar. 1.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report, which cited government documents and local media reports, identified a network of at least 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces where more than 80,000 Uyghurs from the western region of Xinjiang have been transferred.
“Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen,” the think-tank said in the introduction to its report.
The ASPI report said the transfers of labor were part of a state-sponsored program.
It says the workers “lead a harsh, segregated life,” are forbidden to practice religion, and are required to participate in mandarin language classes.
It also says the Uyghurs are tracked electronically and restricted from returning to Xinjiang.
The United Nations estimates over a million Muslim Uyghurs have been detained in camps in Xinjiang over recent years as part of a wide-reaching campaign by Chinese officials to stamp out terrorism.
The mass detentions have provoked a backlash from rights groups and foreign governments, which say the arbitrary nature of the detentions violates human rights.
The 83 global brands mentioned in ASPIs report either work directly with the factories or source materials from the factories, it said, citing public supplier lists and the factories own information.
One of the factories, O-Film Technology Co. Ltd., which has manufactured cameras for Apples iPhones, received 700 Uyghur laborers as part of the program in 2017, a local media article cited by the report said.
Apple referred Reuters to an earlier statement that said “Apple is dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We have not seen this report but we work closely with all our suppliers to ensure our high standards are upheld.”
The other companies mentioned in the introduction to ASPIs report—BMW, Gap Inc., Huawei Technologies CoRead More – Source