Apple said to be among US companies lobbying against Uighur forced labor bill

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Major U.S. companies, reportedly including Apple, are lobbying against a new piece of legislation that seeks to prevent forced labor in China.

Credit: WikiCommons
Credit: WikiCommons


The bill, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, levies sanctions on human rights violators and prevents imports of goods manufactured in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang unless companies can guarantee they weren't produced by imprisoned or coerced workers. As of November, estimates indicate that China has forced nearly one million Uighur Muslims into internment camps.

According to a report in The Washington Post, a group of U.S. companies, which is said to include Apple, oppose the bill as it's written and are actively attempting to weaken it.

A full list of the firms that are lobbying against the bill isn't available. An October report from The Information indicates that Apple's lobbying firm, Fierce government Relations, disclosed that it was lobbying on the bill on behalf of the Cupertino tech giant. However, the form that disclosed that Apple was lobbying does not contain any position information, nor is it required to.

Staffers familiar with the matter declined to detail Apple's specific lobbying efforts to WaPo, but characterized the effort as attempting to water down the bill.

Other companies are lobbying to have their names removed from the legislation, which specifically calls out U.S. companies like Coca-Cola, Costco, and Patagonia. The bill is said to focus mostly on textile manufacturing and other low-tech industries.

An Apple spokesperson told WaPo that the company is "dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect. We abhor forced labor and support the goals of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. We share the committee's goal of eradicating forced labor and strengthening U.S. law, and we will continue working with them to achieve that."

Earlier in 2020, select Apple suppliers were accused of using forced Uighur labor to manufacture components for the Cupertino tech giant.

In July, Apple said it was continuing to carry out investigations of the alleged forced labor. Results from the probe turned up no evidence of wrongdoing among its suppliers, Apple said.

"Forced labor is abhorrent," Apple CEO Tim Cook told Congress in July. "We would not tolerate it in Apple" and would "terminate a supplier relationship if it were found."
harrywinter
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    They’re against a bill opposing forced labor? I think this story is in desperate need of additional context.
    cat52patchythepirate
  • Reply 2 of 24
    normmnormm Posts: 653member
    These things are tricky.  If compliance is hard to verify and penalties are large, it seems to me most US manufacturers might just abandon giving any work to Uighurs in this region, regardless of what the working conditions are.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,567administrator
    They’re against a bill opposing forced labor? I think this story is in desperate need of additional context.
    The bill is loaded with all kinds of crap, the specifics are as of yet unknown, and ultimately, nobody knows Apple's position. We'll see.
    dewmeFileMakerFellerpatchythepirateGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 24
    They’re against a bill opposing forced labor? I think this story is in desperate need of additional context.
    The bill is loaded with all kinds of crap, the specifics are as of yet unknown, and ultimately, nobody knows Apple's position. We'll see.
    And you know the bill is loaded with "crap" because... you have a copy of it and are willing to share?
    ivanh
  • Reply 5 of 24
    montrosemacs said:

    And you know the bill is loaded with "crap" because... you have a copy of it and are willing to share?
    I'll share it!
     
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6210/text

    * Seriously, that was one Google search… Aren't you guys required to takes civics classes? Don't they teach you that the contents of bills are public knowledge?
    edited November 2020 CloudTalkinmac_dogroundaboutnowFileMakerFellermuthuk_vanalingamDogpersonforegoneconclusionSpamSandwich
  • Reply 6 of 24
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,611member
    Apple has been quite public about its opposition to forced labour, but only a simpleton would read this article and think Apple's contradicting itself. Given the bill-making process, I should think it's quite likely that the bill has some untenable provisions in it that can't realistically be enacted as quickly as the bill calls for (news flash, Apple can't just drop a supplier on Tuesday and have a new one on Wednesday).

    Apple is very likely trying to educate the bill's well-intentioned authors on the realities of the supply chain and how fast you can turn some things around. Apple has had a stellar track record on raising the standard of human rights and environmental concerns amongst its suppliers but it takes time and diplomacy to do so. I haven't perused the bill in question (thanks for the link, Mknelson), but while "watering down" may be an accurate descriptor (or not), the ultimate goal of both the bill's authors and Apple are likely to be towards the same end goal, and they're just quibbling about which route to that goal will be the least disruptive while being the most effective. This is in fact how a lot of bills that target specific companies work.
    FileMakerFellermuthuk_vanalingamDogperson
  • Reply 7 of 24
    Apple would be fully justified in opposing this ill considered Bill which violates international trade law.
  • Reply 8 of 24
    Apple needs to tread carefully here. Go to far against the CCP and suddenly life for the companies making iStuff etc in China becomes a lot harder. That's how a planned economy works.

    IMHO, Apple needs to shut the hell up and remain neutral at least in public while pressing behind the scenes for change.

    I've travelled through this part of China and it is by chinese standards very deprived. The locals don't want millions of people relocated to their part of the world. They were quite happy being left alone to live their lives but even when I was there it was easy to see the influence of Bejing growing (this was 1998).  Mao started it with the imposition of a standard dress for men and women. The Uighur's preferred their traditional dress which was more practical for the way most of them lived.

    If Apple is lobbying to get the bill cleaned up, that is good. But we know that Congress has this habit of tacking all sorts of other stuff onto legislation that are really nothing to do with the original bill. That needs to stop but I don't hold out any hope. The recent election has shown the world that there are some really fundamental parts of the way that the US is governed are totally screwed up. Get your own house in order before preaching to others.
  • Reply 9 of 24
    ivanhivanh Posts: 597member
    They’re against a bill opposing forced labor? I think this story is in desperate need of additional context.
    The bill is loaded with all kinds of crap, the specifics are as of yet unknown, and ultimately, nobody knows Apple's position. We'll see.
    give examples please.
    harrywinter
  • Reply 10 of 24
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,919member
    And who stirred the Uighur Muslims into action against this century’s communist ‘threat’ in the same way they stirred the Mujahideen into action against last century’s communist ‘threat’?
    Corporates having to apologise for for
    democratic state actions is deplorable.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    FYI: the main product of the Xinjiang region of China is cotton. That provides some insight as to why Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are sponsors of the bill. Also, products made with forced labor are already supposed to be banned in the United States due to Smoot-Hawley Act from 1930. 
    edited November 2020 harrywinterdrdavid
  • Reply 12 of 24
    Crap, phony, rightwing legislation. Worth mentioning only on some street corner outside a bar in Dullsville, USA.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    Laws need to be based on facts and reality rather than propaganda.   Right now all we have is a boatload of allegations, smear campaigns and propaganda from the China haters rather than verified facts.

    The effects of this propaganda campaign are still being felt here in the U.S. because, when schools tried to prepare for remote learning by distributing common computers to their students, the supply chains were shut down when the U.S. government started dictating which Chinese factories were permitted to make U.S. computers.

    We need to get back to reality and away from the world of propaganda that takes isolated, minor instances and blows them all out of proportion to reality in order to pitch an agenda.  But, hate and fear sell very well -- so both media and politicians keep pushing it out to the gullible.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,567administrator
    ivanh said:
    They’re against a bill opposing forced labor? I think this story is in desperate need of additional context.
    The bill is loaded with all kinds of crap, the specifics are as of yet unknown, and ultimately, nobody knows Apple's position. We'll see.
    give examples please.
    Bill text is linked in the above comments, and is public domain. Feel free to read it on your own.
    GeorgeBMaccat52
  • Reply 15 of 24
    It's worth noting that this bill (link) was near unanimous, it passed 406 to 3 in the House. 

    This doesn't mean that Apple shouldn't defend its supply chain and call out the initial (short) half-a-year deadline in the bill. (Though I agree with the bill, that annual reviews should be a bare minimum thereafter).

    From a quick skim, I don't see much fluff in this bill, but please comment if you see differently (specific section numbers would be helpful) - I'm honestly curious. If anything, I feel the bill could've been strengthened further; the bill seems to still permit companies to claim ignorance, and appears it could have law enforcement loopholes. 

    edited November 2020 drdavidgatorguyelijahg
  • Reply 16 of 24
    It's worth noting that this bill (link) was near unanimous, it passed 406 to 3 in the House. 

    This doesn't mean that Apple shouldn't defend its supply chain and call out the initial (short) half-a-year deadline in the bill. (Though I agree with the bill, that annual reviews should be a bare minimum thereafter).

    From a quick skim, I don't see much fluff in this bill, but please comment if you see differently (specific section numbers would be helpful) - I'm honestly curious. If anything, I feel the bill could've been strengthened further; the bill seems to still permit companies to claim ignorance, and appears it could have law enforcement loopholes. 

    Sorry, I couldn't get that URL to open.
  • Reply 17 of 24
    I know that Apple has a policy document against forced labor - don't know about the others - but shady things happen in China and unless you're monitoring every manufacturer and producer in the chain realtime very day you have little idea what their day-to-day operations are like - today.

    China has a lot of forced labor - heck, they have a lot of forced organ donation. There's a reason that if you've got a lot of money you can get an organ in a week. Went on for years with the Falun Gong ... now it's on to the Uighurs. The Chinese Communist Party claims they're taken from prisoners. Uh huh ... like Mr. Rich Guy is going to risk a transplant organ from the dregs of society.

    There's so much wrong with China that I long ago urged Apple to leave China, except for products for Chinese domestic consumption. Move out production, move your supply chains. You don't want your speedy high efficiency chips confiscated by the People's Liberation Army and used for say hypersonic missiles (which could happen).

    Really, China has become more and more belligerent and desperate as more foreign companies flee the dangerous environment that China is rapidly evolving into. China is attempting to evolve foreign manufacture into products for domestic consumption, but despite all there isn't enough wealth in China to absorb all that excess - and questionable quality - Chinese manufacturing capacity. Outside of the main industrial areas and cities, China is still quite an impoverished backwater.
    elijahg
  • Reply 18 of 24
    I know that Apple has a policy document against forced labor - don't know about the others - but shady things happen in China and unless you're monitoring every manufacturer and producer in the chain realtime very day you have little idea what their day-to-day operations are like - today.

    China has a lot of forced labor - heck, they have a lot of forced organ donation. There's a reason that if you've got a lot of money you can get an organ in a week. Went on for years with the Falun Gong ... now it's on to the Uighurs. The Chinese Communist Party claims they're taken from prisoners. Uh huh ... like Mr. Rich Guy is going to risk a transplant organ from the dregs of society.

    There's so much wrong with China that I long ago urged Apple to leave China, except for products for Chinese domestic consumption. Move out production, move your supply chains. You don't want your speedy high efficiency chips confiscated by the People's Liberation Army and used for say hypersonic missiles (which could happen).

    Really, China has become more and more belligerent and desperate as more foreign companies flee the dangerous environment that China is rapidly evolving into. China is attempting to evolve foreign manufacture into products for domestic consumption, but despite all there isn't enough wealth in China to absorb all that excess - and questionable quality - Chinese manufacturing capacity. Outside of the main industrial areas and cities, China is still quite an impoverished backwater.

    IF you believe the allegations of the China Haters....
  • Reply 19 of 24
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,510member
    It's worth noting that this bill (link) was near unanimous, it passed 406 to 3 in the House. 

    This doesn't mean that Apple shouldn't defend its supply chain and call out the initial (short) half-a-year deadline in the bill. (Though I agree with the bill, that annual reviews should be a bare minimum thereafter).

    From a quick skim, I don't see much fluff in this bill, but please comment if you see differently (specific section numbers would be helpful) - I'm honestly curious. If anything, I feel the bill could've been strengthened further; the bill seems to still permit companies to claim ignorance, and appears it could have law enforcement loopholes. 

    Sorry, I couldn't get that URL to open.
    Works fine for me. You might try again.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    I wonder if the bill should also include other countries that used forced labor and incarcerate  very large numbers of people especially from minorities?
    Why not draw a line and say any nation that has an incarceration rate of greater than 500 per 100k should be treated as a rogue state? 
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