Apple Again Accused of Using Forced Labor in China

BY Mahit Huilgol

Published 10 May 2021

Apple has once again been accused of using forced labor in China. This time around, seven of Apple’s suppliers have been accused of using forced labor in Xinjiang. A report by The Information alleges that suppliers used forced labors in factories that resembled prisons.

Advanced-Connectek is one of the suppliers accused of using forced labor. It has been supplying Apple components for more than a decade.

Advanced-Connectek has made unglamorous but critical computer components for Apple for more than a decade. For two of those years, it operated a factory inside an industrial park on the edge of the deserts of Xinjiang, a region of western China populated by a predominantly Muslim group known as Uyghurs. The industrial park is surrounded by walls and fences with only one way in or out.

The satellite imagery shows a large compound resembling a detention center. Furthermore, prison-like buildings seem to house the laborers. The report alleges that “almost no other factories in Xinjiang have these characteristics except for industrial parks where there is detainee labor.

Apple suppliers linked to suspected forced labor, Advanced-Connectek is the only one that operated a facility in Xinjiang. The plant was located about 15 miles from the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar in a remote location, inside one of many low-slung buildings with distinctive blue roofs, which are highly visible on satellite photos. A fence surrounds the Artux Kunshan Industrial Park and the single entrance is guarded by a checkpoint. Next door is the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center, which is surrounded by barbed-wire topped walls punctuated by guard towers, according to reporting and photos taken by the Associated Press in December 2018.

In 2018 Advanced-Connectek was accused of using forced labor in its factories. Apple has already issued a statement to The Information. The company says it carries a regular assessment of its suppliers and checks for specific aspects like forced labor. Interestingly some of the companies mentioned in the report also supply tech giants, including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

Our Take

In December last year, the Human Rights group accused Apple suppliers of using forced labor. Both of the reports talk about suppliers using forced labor belonging to Uighur Muslim minority groups. Like always Chinese government will refute allegations, and so will Apple. Meanwhile, it remains common for Apple’s suppliers in China to flout regulations and use unethical ways to curb production costs.

[via TheInformation]