Apple is lobbying against the Uyghur forced labor law

Apple is lobbying against the Uyghur forced labor law

The employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity because conversations with the company took place in private meetings, said Apple was one of many US companies opposing the bill as written. They refused to disclose details about the specific provisions that Apple was trying to change or change because they were afraid that they would provide this knowledge that would define them to Apple. But both described Apple’s efforts as an attempt to lighten the bill.

“What Apple wants is that we all just sit and talk and we have no real consequences,” said Cathy Fingold, AFL-CIO’s international division director, who supported the bill. “They are shocked because it is the first time that there can be some effective enforcement.”

We hate forced labor and we support the goals of the Uyghur Law to Prevent Forced Labor. We share the committee’s goal of eliminating forced labor and strengthening US law, “said Josh Rosenstock, an Apple spokesperson, to ensure that everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect. We will continue to work with them to achieve this. ” He said the company earlier this year “conducted a detailed investigation with our suppliers in China and found no evidence of forced labor on Apple product lines, and we are continuing to monitor this closely.”

Apple’s lobbying firm, Fierce Government Relations, has revealed that it is pressing the bill on Apple’s behalf Disclosure form That was first reported before informations. However, the form did not state whether Apple is for or against the bill or whether it wants to amend it in any way. Disclosure forms for lobbying do not require that information. He referred the Washington Post to Apple’s PR team.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated publicly that Apple has no tolerance for forced labor in its supply chain. Cook said in Congress: “Forced labor is an abomination.” Listen in July. “We will not tolerate that at Apple,” he said, adding that Apple “will end the supplier relationship if it is found.”

The new bill will make it harder for US companies to ignore the violations occurring in China and give US authorities more powers to enforce the law. A provision of the law requires public companies to certify to the Securities and Exchange Commission that their products are not made using forced labor from Xinjiang. If companies are found to have used forced labor from the area, they may be sued for securities violations.

While US law already prohibits companies from importing goods that were manufactured using forced labor, the law is rarely enforced, and it is difficult to prove US companies’ knowledge of forced labor.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act It passed 406 to 3 in the House of Representatives in September. People involved in the legislation said the apparel industry was surprised at how quickly it passed without much pressure.

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And now that the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim McGovern (Democrat, Massachusetts) and Senator Marco Rubio (R. Florida), is in front of the US Senate, companies have made a concerted effort to shape it, in part to soften some of its more severe provisions, according to two From members of Congress. Some companies lobbied to have their names removed from the bill, they say, because it calls on certain brands such as Patagonia, Coca-Cola and Costco, for allegedly using forced labor from the region. Its name is Apple.

Patagonia, Coca-Cola, and Costco did not respond to requests for comment.

The bill primarily focuses on textiles and other low-tech industries. For example, Xinjiang sugar made its way into Coca-Cola and tomatoes were used in Heinz ketchup, according to Human Rights Reports.

Michael Mullen, senior vice president of Kraft Heinz, said in a written statement that the company’s suppliers are being audited by a third party and that the audits have not identified “any problems.” He said, “If issues are discovered related to inappropriate work practices, we will take immediate action.” Mullen refused to name the audit firm. Most companies have stopped auditing Xinjiang due to restrictions put in place by the Chinese government.

Adherence to the new bill can be costly to companies, especially in the textile industry, as cotton is woven into garments around the world, making it difficult and costly to track. Xinjiang is known as a center of cotton production, and the garment industry has received most of the scrutiny for the use of textiles produced by the area’s alleged forced labor.

The SEC portion of the bill reflects a provision in the Dodd-Frank Act that requires companies to notify the government if their products contain conflict minerals from the Congo. This provision of the Dodd-Frank Act caused problems for companies importing gold. The companies are concerned that the Uyghur forced labor ban could create similar problems, according to lawmakers.

Because China has moved Uighur Muslims from Xinjiang to work in other parts of the country, human rights advocates say it can be difficult for any American company operating in China to ensure that they do not benefit, even indirectly, from forced labor.

China invaded Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, in the 1700’s, and the Turkish Muslims who lived there for a long time fought against Chinese rule. But in recent years, the Chinese government has cracked down on Muslims, backed by advanced surveillance technology, such as artificial intelligence and facial recognition, a digital iron fist that has overwhelmed the population.

With an estimated one to two million people in the camps, human rights groups have described the situation in Xinjiang as a cultural genocide. Some of those who “graduated” from the camps by renouncing Islam and learning to speak Mandarin fluently were transported to factories in Xinjiang and surrounding areas.

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The Chinese government has opposed describing the program as “camps,” saying that they were vocational training centers for the reform of petty criminals. Under severe international pressure, officials announced the end of the program in December 2019, saying all students had successfully graduated. Some centers have been confirmed to have been evacuated, although some Uyghurs abroad said their relatives were still detained or missing.

But China has thwarted efforts to monitor the human rights situation in Xinjiang. Foreign diplomats and journalists who visited the area almost universally reported that they were repeatedly detained by the authorities and being prevented from approaching the areas where the camps were located. Last Satellite images Camps appear growingDoes not shrink.

While the scale of electronics manufacturing in the region is not known, some human rights groups believe that there are factories making electronic components in Xinjiang. According to human rights reports, private companies, acting as middlemen for Xinjiang workers, have arranged for workers to be transferred from concentration camps to electronics factories outside Xinjiang.

march Report from the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy It identified four alleged cases in which workers from Xinjiang were linked to Apple’s supply chain. The report alleges that the workers may have been coerced or coerced, but it did not provide evidence confirming the terms and conditions of employment.

Apple products contain thousands of components manufactured by suppliers around the world. The company has a Supplier Code of Conduct and says it evaluated 1,142 suppliers in 49 countries in 2019, ensuring good business conditions are maintained. Apple publishes an Annual progress report Document the results. “Workplace rights are human rights. We ask suppliers to provide fair working hours, a safe work location, and an environment free from discrimination,” the company says. website.

The Australian report claims that in 2017, the Chinese government transferred between 1,000 and 2,000 Uighurs to work at a factory owned by O-Film, helping to make Apple’s iPhone selfie cameras. Apple’s Cook announced his visit to the O-Film factory in December 2017, posing in front of a microscope on the factory floor, wearing a clean blue jumpsuit. Cook wrote on Weibo, the Chinese social media site: “Take a closer look at the wonderful and delicate work that goes into making selfie cameras for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X at O-Film.”

O-Film also supplies other US companies such as Dell, HP, Amazon and General Motors, according to the report. (Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon owns The Washington Post.) A Dell spokeswoman, Lauren Lee, said a subsidiary of O-Film is a supplier to the company but Dell does not do business with the O-Film manufacturer mentioned in the report. Amazon acknowledged the report and decried forced labor at A. statement On its website. General Motors, most recently Sustainability ReportShe said she investigated the allegations and ended her relationship with the supplier.

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Chinese Newspaper article From May 2017, it covered transportation of Uyghur workers to the O-Film factory. The article added a positive twist to the story, referring to the alleged forced laborers as “surplus urban and rural workers” who “went out of their homes to work on the mainland to make money, and create a happy life with their hard work. Labor.”

The Australian report, citing a local government document from September 2019, claims that 560 workers were transferred from Xinjiang to Henan Province and that some of those workers ended up at the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, known as the “iPhone City”, where the products are assembled.

The report also cites Prof. 2018 letter By a Chinese government official announced the transfer of workers from Xinjiang to the Hubei Yihong plant, which the report claims is the parent company of an Apple supplier. According to the report, the manufacturer’s website said it had supplied GoerTek, which makes Apple’s AirPods. In the letter, the official referred to labor transfers as a “green channel” and ordered workers to be “grateful” to the Chinese Communist Party.

“Migrant workers in Xinjiang should consider the factory their home and strive to be prominent employees,” the official said. According to the report, the plant also supplies other US electronics makers such as Oculus, Microsoft and Google from Facebook. GoerTek did not respond to a request for comment. Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s vice president for corporate communications, said the company “has decided that O-Film and Hubei Yihong are neither suppliers of our devices nor our cloud companies.” He added that Microsoft investigated the alleged business violations at Foxconn but found no wrongdoing. “We do not tolerate forced labor in our supply chain,” he said.

The Australian report also cites a 2018 article from Xinjiang Economic News, which reported that 544 Uyghur students have been transferred to a subsidiary of Highbroad Advanced Material, a manufacturer of LCD and OLED components. The report alleges that Highbroad is a supplier to BOE Technology Group, the manufacturer of Apple’s OLED displays, according to Apple Supplier List. The Bank of England did not respond to a request for comment.

In August, the Technology Transparency Project was revealed Shipping records It appears that Apple was importing T-shirts from a company in Xinjiang that had been sanctioned by Congress for its alleged use of forced labor. Apple said at the time that it was not currently importing shirts from the region.

“I’m not entirely surprised that Apple will participate in trying to ease legislation on protecting human rights in China,” said Maya Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch. However, Apple’s lobbying efforts have been described as “unreasonable”.

Eva Doe contributed to this report.

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