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19 Aug 2021

Lingling Wei, Eva Xiao and Trefor Moss, The Wall Street Journal

China closes U.S. labour auditor as tensions mount over forced labour allegations

"China Closes U.S. Auditor as Tensions Mount Over Forced Labor Allegations", 19 August 2021

Chinese authorities have shut down a U.S. labour auditor’s local China partner, escalating Beijing’s campaign to counter forced-labour allegations in its northwest Xinjiang region and potentially complicating efforts by multinationals to certify supply chains in the country.

China-based Shenzhen Verite, which is affiliated with U.S. labour rights nonprofit Verite Inc., was closed following an April raid on its offices by Chinese security forces, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Though Verite was a small player in China’s auditing industry, companies including Walt Disney Co. and Apple Inc. have hired the Amherst, Mass.-based company to consult on labour issues at Chinese factories. The closure of its Shenzhen-based partner means that Verite has effectively lost its ability to operate in the Chinese market, depriving companies of a potential channel to conduct labour audits and research in China.

The nonprofit also had a reputation for producing investigations that lent credibility to corporations grappling with labour rights-related issues, according to other auditors.

Disney declined to comment. Apple said the company had used Verite on a limited basis in China, but not to conduct audits. [...]

Part of the following timelines

China: 83 major brands implicated in report on forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang assigned to factories across provinces; Includes company responses

China: Mounting concerns over forced labour in Xinjiang

Brands face boycott in China over decision not to source Xinjiang cotton due to allegations of forced labour