Apple, Sony using Uighur detainees in China factories, says Australian think tank

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80,000 people from the ethnic minority interned in Xinjiang camps reported to have been transferred to factories supplying global brands

A representative image of a protest over allegations that Apple supply chains used sweat shop labour to make their products (Photo | Flickr - Annette Bernhardt)

Sydney: Top global brands such as Apple, Sony and BMW have been accused of using the forced labour of China’s Uighur detainees, after an Australian think tank said on Monday that the government has transferring 80,000 or more inmates from internment camps in Xinjiang to factories that manufacture products for some of the world’s leading brands.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute said, “Some factories across China are using forced Uighur labour under a state-sponsored labour transfer scheme,” the think tank said.

The oppressed Chinese minority Uighurs work in the supply chains of 83 well-known global brands in technology, clothing and automotive sectors, the think tank said. The brands, it added, included “Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen”.

“Companies using forced Uighur labour in their supply chains could find themselves in breach of laws which prohibit the importation of goods made with forced labour or mandate disclosure of forced labour supply chain risks,” the report said.

“The companies listed in this report should conduct immediate and thorough human rights due diligence on their factory labour in China, including robust and independent social audits and inspections.”

Volkswagen and Apple, when contacted by AFP, gave the news agency boiler plate statements about commitment to their responsibility to ensure everyone in their supply chain is treated with dignity.

As expected, China’s foreign ministry on Monday slammed the ASPI report as  baseless and accused the institute of attempting to “smear China’s efforts to oppose terrorism and fight extremism in Xinjiang.”

The Xinjiang measures have “achieved good results” and “all participants undergoing anti-extremism education have graduated and achieved stable employment,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang said at a regular press briefing.

An estimated one million mostly Muslim ethnic minorities have been held in internment camps in Xinjiang.

After initially denying their existence, Beijing cast the facilities as “vocational education centres” where “students” learn Mandarin and job skills in an effort to steer them away from religious extremism, terrorism and separatism.

Rights groups and witnesses accuse China of forcibly trying to draw Uighurs away from

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