Global auto supply chains tangled with abuses in Xinjiang: report

Many of those suppliers pass through China, which has become increasingly vital to the global auto industry, and the United States, the destination for about a quarter of the auto parts China exports annually. Xinjiang is home to a variety of industries, but its vast coal reserves and lax environmental regulations have made it a top location for processing energy-intensive materials such as metal smelting, the report says.

Chinese supply chains are complicated and opaque, which can make it difficult to trace certain individual products from Xinjiang to the United States. For the past three years, Xinjiang and other parts of China have gone into intermittent lockdown to keep the coronavirus at bay. Even before the pandemic, the Chinese government tightly controlled access to Xinjiang, especially for human rights groups and the media.

Determining the extent of coercion any individual Uyghur worker may face in Xinjiang’s mines or factories is also difficult given the region’s restrictions. But the general environment of repression in Xinjiang has led the US government to assume that all products that have touched the region in their production are made with forced labor, unless the companies can prove otherwise.

Workers in the region “don’t have a chance to say no,” said Yalkun Uluyol, a native of Xinjiang and one of the report’s authors. Goods from Xinjiang “are the product of exploitation of the land, resources and people,” he said.

Researchers for the report identified numerous documents, including Chinese-language corporate documents, government announcements, and maritime import records, that indicate that international brands, at a minimum, have multiple potential exposures to programs in Xinjiang that the US government now defined as forced labor.

Dr Murphy said her team had identified nearly 100 Chinese companies that extract, process or manufacture materials for the auto industry operating in the Uyghur region, at least 38 of which have publicized their involvement in repressive state-sponsored labor programs. through their social media accounts. corporate reports or other channels.

International automakers contacted by The Times did not dispute the report, but said they were committed to policing their supply chains against human rights abuses and forced labor.

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