Australian think tank accuses China of forced labor. Members of an ethnic minority are reportedly forced to build (inter alia) car parts.
Newspapers are increasingly reporting on the imprisonment of Uighurs in concentration camps. Uighurs are an ethnic minority in the country, oppressed by the government, even if it does everything it can to remove the traces! An Australian human rights association says that since 2017, at least 80,000 Uighurs have been forced to work in factories in the remote Xinjiang region, allegedly as part of a “re-education program”.
In addition to Nike and Sony, who would work directly with these forced laborers, some auto suppliers would also use these cheap workers. Among others, suppliers O-Film Technology Co. Ltd, which manufactures camera modules and components for touch screens, and Highbroad Advanced Material Co. Ltd, which produces screen modules, would be guilty of forcibly employing people from concentration camps. These companies are linked to major customers in the automotive sector: Mercedes-Benz, Geely Auto (parent company of Volvo, Polestar and Lotus, among others), MG, Mitsubishi, BAIC Motor, General Motors, Volkswagen, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover.
Lack of transparency
It is difficult at this stage to determine whether the automakers are aware of the practices of their suppliers. China is not exactly a country where transparency dominate It may therefore be that the manufacturers were as shocked as we were after the news was published.
Volkswagen, in an interview with the German newspaper Deutsche Welle, vigorously denied sourcing parts from any of the suppliers mentioned. This story unfortunately reveals a sad truth. On the one hand, the lucrative Chinese market is very attractive, but on the other hand, doing business in China remains a risky activity. In the end, it is a semi-totalitarian regime that suffers from massive corruption and human rights violations.