A new report links 83 large companies, including Adidas, H&M and Volkswagen, to forced labour in China. It says tens of thousands of Uyghurs are used as forced labourers at supply companies.
Major companies involved
According to a report from the ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute), more than 80,000 Uyghurs were deployed to forced-labour factories that are part of the supply chains of 83 well-known brands in technology, textile and the automotive sector between 2017 and 2019. The report includes Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Zara. The Uyghurs are a Turkish-speaking Muslim minority in China's western Xinjiang region.
The ASPI further states that the Uyghurs were deprived of their freedom and had to work under strict surveillance. They would also receive "ideological training" outside working hours. The researchers therefore call on the aforementioned companies to conduct a thorough investigation into the respect for human rights in their supply chains in China.
Xinjiang enforces a very strict policy in response to the ethnic violence that has been affecting the region in recent years and for which the Chinese government holds Uyghur separatists responsible. Various organisations, such as Amnesty International, accuse China of detaining more than a million Uyghurs (and other Muslim minorities) in so-called "re-education camps" in the area.
Some companies have already responded to the allegations in the report: Adidas has already announced that it has no direct contracts with the factories named in the report, but the company could not say with certainty that there could absolutely be no link with a supplier accused of forced labour further down the supply chain. Bestseller (Jack & Jones) is also mentioned, but that says it strongly distances itself from forced labour, FashionUnited reports. The company also says that the report is new and it has demanded to meet the named supplier to receive more information and clarity.