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

In March 2020, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published a report Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang, which identified 83 foreign and Chinese companies as allegedly directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through potentially abusive labour transfer programs. 

ASPI estimates at least 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang and assigned to factories in a range of supply chains including electronics, textiles, and automotives under a central government policy known as ‘Xinjiang Aid’. The report identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that are using Uyghur labour transferred from Xinjiang since 2017.

ASPI reached out to the 83 brands to confirm their relevant supplier details. Where companies responded before publication, they have included their relevant clarifications in their report.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Abercrombie & Fitch, adidas, Amazon, BMW, Gap, H&M, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Nike, North Face, Puma, PVH, Samsung and UNIQLO to respond; their responses are provided. We invited Apple, Esprit, Fila and Victoria's Secret to respond; they did not. We will continue to post further company responses as we receive them. 

Further company comments can also be found in the articles linked below. 

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Article
1 March 2020

China: Nike, Apple & Dell comment on allegations of forced labour in their supply chains

Author: BBC

"China Uighurs 'moved into factory forced labour' for foreign brands", 2 March 2020

... ASPI said the Uighurs were moved through labour transfer schemes operating under a central government policy known as Xinjiang Aid.

According to the report, the factories claim to be part of the supply chain for 83 well-known global brands, including Nike, Apple and Dell.

The report said it was "extremely difficult" for Uighurs to refuse or escape the work assignments, with the threat of "arbitrary detention" hanging over them....

Nike [said]... it was "committed to upholding international labour standards globally" and that its suppliers were "strictly prohibited from using any type of prison, forced, bonded or indentured labor."

Apple also said it was "dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve", while Dell said it would look into the findings.

Read the full post here

Report
1 March 2020

Major brands implicated in report on forced labour beyond Xinjiang

Author: Australian Strategic Policy Institute

[The Australian Strategic Policy Institute published a report entitled "Uyghurs for sale - ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang" in February 2020.]

… There is mounting evidence that many Uyghurs are now being forced to work in factories within Xinjiang. This report reveals that Chinese factories outside Xinjiang are also sourcing Uyghur workers under a revived, exploitative government-led labour transfer scheme. Some factories appear to be using Uyghur workers sent directly from ‘re-education camps’.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that are using Uyghur labour transferred from Xinjiang since 2017. Those factories claim to be part of the supply chain of 83 well-known global brands. Between 2017 and 2019, we estimate that at least 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang and assigned to factories through labour transfer programs under a central government policy known as ‘Xinjiang Aid’…

This report examines three case studies in which Uyghur workers appear to be employed under forced labour conditions by factories in China that supply major global brands. In the first case study, a factory in eastern China that manufactures shoes for US company Nike is equipped with watchtowers, barbed-wire fences and police guard boxes…  In the second case study of another eastern province factory claiming to supply sportswear multinationals Adidas and Fila, evidence suggests that Uyghur workers were transferred directly from one of Xinjiang’s ‘re-education camps’… In the third case study, we identify several Chinese factories making components for Apple or their suppliers using Uyghur labour.

In all, ASPI’s research has identified 83 foreign and Chinese companies directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through potentially abusive labour transfer programs as recently as 2019: Abercrombie & Fitch, Acer, Adidas, Alstom, Amazon, Apple, ASUS, BAIC Motor, BMW, Bombardier, Bosch, BYD, Calvin Klein, Candy, Carter’s, Cerruti 1881, Changan Automobile, Cisco, CRRC, Dell, Electrolux, Fila, Founder Group, GAC Group (automobiles), Gap, Geely Auto, General Electric, General Motors, Google, H&M, Haier, Hart Schaffner Marx, Hisense, Hitachi, HP, HTC, Huawei, iFlyTek, Jack & Jones, Jaguar, Japan Display Inc., L.L.Bean, Lacoste, Land Rover, Lenovo, LG, Li-Ning, Mayor, Meizu, Mercedes-Benz, MG, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Mitsumi, Nike, Nintendo, Nokia, The North Face, Oculus, Oppo, Panasonic, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Roewe, SAIC Motor, Samsung, SGMW, Sharp, Siemens, Skechers, Sony, TDK, Tommy Hilfiger, Toshiba, Tsinghua Tongfang, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret, Vivo, Volkswagen, Xiaomi, Zara, Zegna, ZTE. Some brands are linked with multiple factories.

The data is based on published supplier lists, media reports, and the factories’ claimed suppliers. ASPI reached out to these 83 brands to confirm their relevant supplier details. Where companies responded before publication, we have included their relevant clarifications in this report. If any company responses are made available after publication of the report, we will address these online.

ASPI notes that a small number of brands including Abercrombie & Fitch advised they have instructed their vendors to terminate their relationships with these suppliers in 2020. Others, including Adidas, Bosch and Panasonic, said they had no direct contractual relationships with the suppliers implicated in the labour schemes, but no brands were able to rule out a link further down their supply chain…

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Article
2 March 2020

China: Xinjiang forced labour reported in multinational supply chains

Author: Yuan Yang & Christian Shepherd, Financial Times

"Xinjiang forced labour reported in multinational supply chains", 2 March 2020

China’s Uighur minority are being moved from their homes and mass detention camps into factories to work under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour for suppliers to a range of multinationals including Apple and Huawei...

More than 80,000 Uighur residents and former detainees from the north-western region of Xinjiang have been transferred to factories in a range of supply chains including electronics, textiles, and automotives, according to the report... by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)...

Asked to comment on the findings, an Apple spokesperson pointed to a statement previously given to the Washington Post: “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.”

Huawei declined to comment.

Read the full post here

Article
2 March 2020

Major global brands implicated in Australian Strategic Policy Institute's report on forced labour in China

Author: Sydney Morning Herald

“Nike, Apple among dozens of major brands implicated in report on forced labour”, 1 March 2020

Nike, Apple and a major manufacturer building trains in Australia are among the dozens of global brands implicated in a new report on forced labour in China...

The report... alleges some factories that supply the brands appear to be using Uighur workers sent directly from re-education camps.

The Chinese government maintains the camps, which it describes as vocational education facilities, are needed to combat terrorism in the Xinjiang region and to "ensure its smooth economic transition".

It has dismissed claims that up to a million members of the Uighur muslim minority have been detained in the camps as "fake news"...

"Local Chinese governments and private brokers are paid a price per head for workers on the labour assignments," ASPI found…

The report alleged up to 600 are employed at the Qingdao Taekwang Shoes factory.

"At the factory, the Uighur labourers make Nike shoes during the day," the report said. "In the evening, they attend a night school where they study Mandarin, sing the Chinese national anthem and receive vocational training and patriotic education. The curriculum closely mirrors that of Xinjiang’s re-education camps.

"In such circumstances, it is unlikely that their work arrangements are voluntary."

The Washington Post corroborated the claims… The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have not been able to independently verify the allegations before deadline…

Adidas told ASPI the company does not have an active relationship with the factory and that they will investigate the use of the Adidas signage.

A Nike spokesman told The Washington Post that "we respect human rights in our extended value chain, and always strive to conduct business ethically and responsibly".

Apple said it would work with suppliers to ensure its standards are upheld…

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Article
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Author: Challenges avec AFP

« De grandes marques liées au travail forcé des Ouïghours en Chine, selon une ONG » 2 mars 2020

La Chine a transféré des dizaines de milliers de membres de la minorité musulmane ouïghoure, détenus dans des camps d'internement, vers des usines fournissant au moins 80 des plus grandes marques mondiales, affirme lundi un centre de réflexion australien dans un rapport détaillé.

Entre 2017 et 2019, plus de 80.000 Ouïghours ainsi emprisonnés dans la région du Xinjiang (nord-ouest) ont été transférés ailleurs en Chine dans des usines "appartenant aux chaînes d'approvisionnement de 83 marques connues mondialement dans la technologie, le textile et l'automobile", affirme l'Institut australien de stratégie politique (ASPI).

"Des usines recourent au travail forcé des Ouïghours dans le cadre d'un mécanisme de transfert encadré par l'Etat (chinois)", explique-t-il dans un volumineux rapport.

Parmi les marques épinglées se trouvent de grands noms de l'électronique (Apple, Sony, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, etc.), du textile (Adidas, Lacoste, Gap, Nike, Puma, Uniqlo, H&M, etc.) et de l'automobile (BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, etc.). Le groupe français Alstom est aussi cité...

Volkswagen et Daimler font valoir que les entreprises mises en cause ne font pas partie de leurs fournisseurs directs.

BMW, qui "ne peux pas commenter le contenu" du rapport, indique que des "questions de droits humains" font partie des critères de sélection des partenaires et assure que ses sous-traitants directs doivent "appliquer la même politique avec leurs propres fournisseurs".

Apple renvoie à un engagement qu'il a pris par le passé à "ce que tous dans les chaînes de production soient traités avec la dignité et le respect qu'ils méritent", disant "travailler étroitement" avec ses fournisseurs pour que "les normes les plus élevées soient appliquées".

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Article
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Author: Collectif Éthique sur L'Étiquette

Les faits documentés dans le rapport de l’Institut australien de stratégie politique (ASPI) [1] rendu public le 1er mars dernier « Uyghurs for sale » choquent largement media et opinion publique. Alors que se multiplient les déclarations des entreprises et les appels à « avancer ensemble », ce rapport inquiétant apporte une preuve supplémentaire, si elle était nécessaire, de l’urgence à adopter au niveau international une législation qui empêche que l’activité économique repose sur des atteintes massives aux droits fondamentaux des personnes. Il n’est plus temps de se reposer sur les discours de ces puissantes entreprises...

Il identifie ainsi 83 entreprises mondialement connues qui profiteraient de manière directe ou indirecte de ce travail forcé. Parmi elles Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Amazon, Apple, Gap, H&M, Lacoste, Nike, Puma, Samsung, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret ou encore Zara. Des entreprises prospères, aux moyens financiers considérables, cultivant une image soignée voire vertueuse auprès des consommateurs.

Ces violations sont choquantes. Les réponses des entreprises ne le sont pas moins : interrogées par des journalistes, certaines réitèrent leur engagement en faveur de la dignité des travailleurs ; d’autres indiquent avoir rappelé à leurs fournisseurs cet attachement ; d’autres encore disent ne pas avoir ces usines comme fournisseurs directs – un argument largement avancé lors de l’effondrement du Rana Plaza en 2013...

Le Collectif Éthique sur l’étiquette demande en ce sens :

 -De faire appliquer en France la loi sur le devoir de vigilance et d’en élargir la portée [4] ; 
 -D’activer les négociations visant à l’adoption d’une directive européenne ambitieuse sur le devoir de vigilance ; 
-D’avancer dans l’adoption du traité onusien sur les Entreprises et les droits humains en négociation depuis 2014.

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Company non-response
8 March 2020

Apple did not respond

Company non-response
8 March 2020

Esprit did not respond

Company non-response
8 March 2020

Fila did not respond

Company non-response
8 March 2020

Victoria's Secret did not respond