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At least two Australian companies reportedly purchase masks made with allegedly forced labour in China

Author: The Guardian (UK), Published on: 30 July 2020

“Face masks made with allegedly forced Uighur labour in China are being sold in Australia”, 22 July 2020

Face masks manufactured at a Chinese factory using allegedly coerced Uighur labour are being sold in Australia, the Guardian has learned…

At least 200,000 face masks made by Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co Ltd in China and then sent to multiple distributors in Australia are in question, and consumers may be unwittingly buying masks made by allegedly coerced labour.

Experts are now warning local face mask distributors, governments and consumers to ensure their supply chains are not tainted by factories using forced Uighur labour…

… a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute thinktank identified a series of factories linked to a program of forced labour involving 80,000 Uighurs…

One of the factories named in the ASPI report belonged to the Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co Ltd, which manufactures personal protective equipment in Hubei province, central China, and exports to a range of countries, including Australia. ..

The company confirmed to the Guardian it exported supplies to Australia, and that Uighur people were part of its workforce under the government’s policy “supporting Xinjiang development”…

It declined to comment further when asked about claims of forced labour.

The Guardian has established that at least two Australian companies have purchased stocks of surgical masks from Hubei Haixin for local distribution.

Both said they were unaware of the use of Uighur labour, and have expressed concern about the allegations.

One of the companies, MCG Electronics, says Hubei Haixin has shipped roughly 200,000 masks to various distributors in Australia since the beginning of the pandemic…

Experts also say western companies face extreme difficulty in auditing supply chains in China due to the secrecy and sensitivity surrounding its treatment of Uighurs.

The ASPI analyst Vicky Xu, who investigated the Uighur labour program with research assistant Stephanie Zhang, said it was becoming “absolutely impossible” for auditors to conduct normal human rights checks on factories in China, making due diligence extremely difficult…

The second Australian company, My Queen Pty Ltd, was also unaware of the allegations of Uighur labour use, and only purchased one batch of masks from Hubei Haixin. The company has no plans for further purchases…

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