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Apple benefits from forced Uighur labor, according to an explosive new report

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  • Apple suppliers in China use Uighur workers forcibly displaced by the Chinese government, according to a wide-ranging report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
  • ASPI estimates 80,000 Uighurs have been transferred to factories across China as part of the Chinese government’s persecution of the country’s minority population.
  • The report found evidence of forced Uighur labor in four separate facilities belonging to Apple suppliers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple’s suppliers in China use thousands of displaced Uighurs for labour, according to a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The report is wide-ranging and focuses on a coordinated government campaign to move and displace Uighurs, a Muslim minority found mostly in Xinjiang province. The report estimates that between 2017 and 2019 some 80,000 Uighurs were forcibly transferred to work in factories across China.

The relocation programme is part of the Chinese government’s broader persecution of the Uighur minority, which is predominantly Muslim. Over 1 million Uighur people in Xinjiang have been imprisoned in detention camps, and the government has launched a program paying Chinese men to sleep with Uighur women which was described as “mass rape” by one Uighur activist.

Although the report highlights that the displaced Uighur workers are present in many different companies’ supply chains including Nike, BMW, and Amazon, Apple features prominently as a case study.

ASPI found evidence of forced Uighur labor at four separate factories in Apple’s supply chain including the Foxconn Zhengzhou facility — a massive factory known colloquially as “iPhone City” that employs up to 350,000 people and produces over half of the world’s iPhones. Totalling the figures from ASPI’s report, at least 2,700 Uighur people have been transferred into Apple’s supply chain since 2017.

Tim Cook visited a factory of one of the suppliers identified in the report in 2017. The factory belonged to a company called O-Film and manufactured selfie cameras for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. During his visit Cook reportedly praised O-Film for its “humane approach towards employees” in a now-deleted O-Film press release, according to ASPI.

Apple was not immediately available to comment on the report when contacted by Business Insider, but a spokesman told the Washington Post:

“Apple is dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We have not seen this report but we work closely with all our suppliers to ensure our high standards are upheld.”

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