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REPORT: More Suppliers for Apple Discovered Using Slave Labor

Why does Apple continue to lobby against a bill that guards against the use of slave labor in China for products shipped to the United States?

Because it appears the iManufacturer wants its Sino-suppliers to continue the practice, if evidence unveiled by (paywall) investigative website The Information is to be believed.

Citing discoveries made by human rights groups via satellite images, videos, and public statements by Chinese officials, the report “found seven companies supplying device components, coatings and assembly services to Apple that are linked to alleged forced labor involving Uyghurs and other oppressed monitories in China. At least five of those companies received thousands of Uyghur and other minority workers at specific factory sites or subsidiaries that did work for Apple, the investigation found.”

For example, the report identified one computer parts supplier – Advanced-Connectek – that operated in an “industrial park” in the Xinjiang region, where the persecuted Muslim-minority Uighurs are housed and enslaved. From The Information’s report:

Next to the park was a large compound identified by a satellite imagery researcher as a detention center where the factory workers lived. The researcher, Nathan Ruser, from an Australian think tank, said “almost no other factories in Xinjiang have these characteristics except for industrial parks where there is detainee labor.”

The Information and human rights groups have found seven companies supplying device components, coatings and assembly services to Apple that are linked to alleged forced labor involving Uyghurs and other oppressed minorities in China. At least five of those companies received thousands of Uyghur and other minority workers at specific factory sites or subsidiaries that did work for Apple, the investigation found.

Investigative efforts dating back to last year found that Apple utilized Chinese companies that operate in Xinjiang as part of their supply chain.

A report released in March 2020 by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute determined that at least three manufacturers of Apple parts use forced Uighur labor that has been relocated to factories in other parts of China: BOE Technology, which makes LCD screens, and O-Film, which makes cameras and lenses, and Hubei Yihong Precision Manufacturing, whose parent company lists Apple as a customer. The report also identified transfer of workers to a Foxconn factory, known worldwide for its assembly of iPhones.

And The Information reported in December that Apple was slow to cut ties with Chinese suppliers found to be violating its labor ethics policies, specifically pertaining to child labor and workplace safety.

Apple routinely denies it uses forced labor. In a statement provided to The Information for this week’s report, the company said, “Despite the restrictions of Covid-19, we undertook further investigations and found no evidence of forced labor anywhere we operate. We will continue doing all we can to protect workers and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.”

Last summer CEO Tim Cook testified before a House committee that “forced labor is abhorrent” and “we would not tolerate it at Apple.”

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) wrote to Cook Tuesday, following The Information report, seeking details on Apple’s relationships with the seven Chinese companies and asking specifically about its processes to prevent forced labor practices.

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