A senior US senator on Tuesday accused US firms of willfully ignoring “horrific” forced labor conditions in China’s Xinjiang region, and called on the US Department of Commerce to stop US companies and consumers buying goods produced by such labor.
In a letter to US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, US Senator Bob Menendez said that reports have indicated that a wide array of US companies, including Apple Inc, Kraft Heinz Co, Coca-Cola Co and the Gap Inc, had sourced or continued to source goods from Xinjiang.
“Moreover, there are consistent reports that US companies fail to undertake basic labor and human rights assessments in Xinjiang, in essence willfully ignoring the horrific conditions of forced labor in Xinjiang,” Menendez, the ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said in the letter.
“In failing to uphold their responsibilities to vet their supply chains, these companies may be complicit in the mass repression of Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and members of other Muslim minority groups,” he said.
The firms Menendez mentioned did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The UN estimates that more than 1 million Muslim Uighurs have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. China denies it violates Uighur rights, and says the camps are designed to stamp out terrorism and provide vocational skills.
Menendez, who has called for sanctions on China over the issue, also requested information about US government contractors who source cotton from China, which produces 84 percent of its cotton in Xinjiang.
“The use of materials that are manufactured using forced labor is unacceptable for products in US markets,” he said in the letter.
An Australian think tank said in a report earlier this month that tens of thousands of ethnic Uighurs have been transferred to work in factories across China, supplying 83 global brands in conditions “that strongly suggest forced labor.”
Nike Inc, which was included in that report, said in a statement on its Web site that while the company “does not directly source products from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” it had been conducting due diligence with its suppliers in China to identify and assess potential risks related to employment of people from the region.
On Monday, the Washington-based Fair Labor Association (FLA), which conducts due diligence for major multinational firms, said it was “deeply troubled by credible reports of forced labor and other violations of fundamental rights in Xinjiang.”
“We have directed our affiliates to review their direct and indirect sourcing relationships, identify alternative sourcing opportunities, and develop timebound plans to ensure that their sourcing is in line with the FLA’s principles,” it said.
NOT ALL GOOD: Analysts warned that other data for last month might be less rosy due to the virus and analysts expect the PMI to contract again next month Chinese factory activity saw surprise growth last month as businesses went back to work following a lengthy shutdown, but analysts said that the economy faces a challenging recovery as external demand has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the World Bank said that growth could screech to a halt. China is slowly returning to life after months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the virus, which put millions of people into virtual house arrest and brought economic activity to a near standstill. The strict measures saw a closely watched gauge of manufacturing plunge to its lowest level on record in February,
The output of the global smartphone industry this year is to contract by 7.8 percent on an annual basis as the COVID-19 pandemic ushers in a global recession, Taipei-based market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said in a report on Monday. The global production of smartphones is expected to fall to 1.29 billion units, as the pandemic dampens demand for consumer electronics, leading to a decline in shipments across Europe and North America, TrendForce said. With consumers delaying smartphone purchases and thereby lengthening the device replacement cycle, overall prices would suffer a setback that is expected to negatively affect the profitability of smartphone
ELECTRONICS Lite-On delays sale of unit Lite-On Technology Corp (光寶科技) yesterday said it would postpone the sale of its solid-state drives (SSD) business to Kioxia Holdings Corp, formerly known as Toshiba Memory Holdings Corp, due to disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Taiwan-based electronics components supplier struck the deal with the Japanese firm, agreeing to sell the unit for US$165 million. Citing unfinished integration work due to the pandemic, Lite-On has deferred today’s closing date until further notice, adding that the delay would not have a negative effect on the unit’s operations. AUTO PARTS Hiroca approves dividend Automotive interior parts supplier Hiroca
ALL ABOUT STRATEGY: The company is optimistic, saying that its gross margin should increase year-on-year, but it is scaling back on its plans to expand capacity Quang Viet Enterprise Co (QVE, 廣越), which makes down jackets and garments for sportswear and outdoor brands including Adidas AG, yesterday said that revenue might drop 5 to 10 percent annually this year as some customers trimmed orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That would mark its first revenue decline since 2016. Quang Viet posted record-high revenue of NT$16.26 billion (US$537.45 million) last year, up 22 percent from 2018. Down jackets made up 40 percent of it revenue last year. North Face Inc and Patagonia Inc are this year likely to reduce orders by 20 to 30 percent from a