Seven Apple suppliers linked to Chinese forced labor programs

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 10
A new report on Monday claims that seven Apple suppliers participated in labor programs suspected to be connected to the alleged Chinese genocide of Uyghurs from the Xinjiang region.

Credit: LA Times
Credit: LA Times


The Apple supply chain partner produce components, coatings, and offer assembly services to the Cupertino tech giant. At least five received thousands of Uyghur and other oppressed minority workers at specific plants that did work for Apple, according to an investigation by human rights groups and The Information.

According to the report, evidence suggests that Advanced-Connectek, Luxshare Precision Industry, Shenzhen Deren Electronic Co., Avary Holding, AcBel Polytech, CN Innovations, and Suzhou Dongshan Precision Manufacturing Co. participated in the forced labor programs.

To identify those manufacturers and supply partners, the investigation used previously unreported public statements, images, and videos by Chinese government offices and state-run media organizations. That evidence found that the companies participated in what the Chinese call a poverty alleviation program.

Apple has and continues to deny that its supply chain uses forced labor. The company says it carries out ongoing reviews of its partners in China, which includes investigating allegations of coercion.

"All state-sponsored labor recruitment programs in Xinjiang must be understood as compulsory labor because no minority citizen in the region has the ability to refuse to participate in the programs," said human rights professor Laura Murphy told The Information.

Because Apple hasn't disclosed the full list of the supply chain partners it uses, The Information separately confirmed the links to the Cupertino tech giant with public and internal documents, as well as interviews with employees.

The U.S. and other governments have accused China of committing a genocide against more than 1 million Uyghurs, a Muslim minority from the Chinese region of Xinjiang. China allegedly uses so-called poverty alleviation programs to subjugate the Muslims, assimilate them into Han Chinese culture, and rid them of their Islamic religious beliefs.

The Chinese government says that the programs are meant to lift Xinjiang residents out of poverty. Xinjiang has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. China also says the work camps in which Uyghurs are allegedly imprisoned are vocational and training centers established to prevent terrorism.

Apple's response

Apple told The Information that "looking for the presence of forced labor is part of every assessment we conduct in every country where we do business."

"Despite the restrictions of Covid-19, we undertook further investigations and found no evidence of forced labor anywhere we operate. We will continue doing all we can to protect workers and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect," Apple said.

In July 2020, Apple supplier O-Film Tech was among 11 companies accused of benefitting from those forced labor programs.

Apple at the time said it carried out a thorough review of its supply chain and found no evidence of human rights abuses. During an antitrust hearing in July 2020, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Congress that "forced labor is abhorrent," adding that Apple would "terminate a supplier relationship if it were found."

In December 2020, Apple reportedly cut ties with O-Film after learning that the company had actually participated in the forced labor program.

According to the report, hundreds of workers were sent to Luxshare Precision between 2017 and 2020. The company is one of Apple's most important supply partners, and makes both iPhone and AirPods models for Apple.

Antenna and internal cable supplier Shenzhen Deren Electronic reportedly received more than 1,000 Xinjiang laborers in recent years. Avary Holding, which makes printed circuit boards, received about 400 laborers between 2019 and 2020.

Other Apple suppliers that received Xinjiang laborers make components such as internal power hardware, circuit boards, and surface coatings for iPhone and iPad screens.

At least one Apple supply chain partner, Advanced-Connectek, was said to have run a factory on the edge of the Xinjiang deserts. Satellite imagery and further investigation indicate that the factory was next to a compound said to be a forced labor detention facility.

The industrial park where the factory was located is surrounded by walls and fences with only one entrance and exit. Researcher Nathan Ruser told The Information that "almost no other factories in Xinjiang have these characteristics except for industrial parks where there is detainee labor."

Apple's supply chain isn't the only one

Although Apple has reportedly dragged its feet when dealing with Chinese labor law offenders, the Cupertino tech giant isn't the only company with a supply chain that allegedly benefits from forced labor.

According to The Information, other U.S. and Western companies that work with the seven identified suppliers include Google, Samsung, Amazon, Tesla, Dell, Lenovo, BMW, Cisco, and HP, among others.

Other U.S. companies have taken lobbying action against legislation meant to prevent forced labor in China. Major firms like Coca-Cola, Costco, Patagonia, and Apple were said in November 2020 to be attempting to water down the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Apple's proposed changes to the bill included extending compliance deadlines, making sure some supply chain information is kept from the public, and requiring a U.S. government designation for companies that detain or surveil Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,403moderator
    No word from these reports as to whether any other companies get parts from these companies.  Surely they aren’t solely Apple suppliers.  
    Beatsqwerty52
  • Reply 2 of 29
    davewritedavewrite Posts: 62member
    here we go again: Iraq is has stockpile of WMD playbook..

    Here read this: 

    https://thegrayzone.com/2021/04/30/xinjiang-forced-labor-china-uyghur/
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 29
    123Go123Go Posts: 10member
    It must be very difficult for Apple and other companies  to investigate claims like this in a totalitarian country like China. May be it is time to pull out of China even if it costly in the short term.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 29
    CloudTalkinCloudTalkin Posts: 905member
    No word from these reports as to whether any other companies get parts from these companies.  Surely they aren’t solely Apple suppliers.  
    1. From the article you're quoting:
    "According to The Information, other U.S. and Western companies that work with the seven identified suppliers include Google, Samsung, Amazon, Tesla, Dell, Lenovo, BMW, Cisco, and HP, among others."

    2. Why am I not surprised the first response to the article is a quote looking to point the finger elsewhere and spread the blame.  If the rumors are true, involvement by other companies doesn't lessen the impact of Apple's involvement.  "They do it too has never been a good excuse"  I'm also sure Apple would never use it.  That's an excuse some Apple fans like to trot out when Apple could be involved with something less than respectable.   Apple has shown time and again, when verifiable evidence exists, they act on it.  No need to attempt deflection towards other companies.   
    gatorguyBeatsctt_zhmuthuk_vanalingamdysamoriaanantksundarammariowincoelijahg
  • Reply 5 of 29
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 334member
    No word from these reports as to whether any other companies get parts from these companies.  Surely they aren’t solely Apple suppliers.  

    It has been always like this. It's very frustrating
    Even if there are ten other companies, using parts from the same supplier, mostly is only Apple mentioned in the reports.
    And the next day, all the media in the world is screaming how badly Apple is treating “its employees”, though Apple has nothing to do with it.

    edited May 10 Beats
  • Reply 6 of 29
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,633member
    davewrite said:
    here we go again: Iraq is has stockpile of WMD playbook..

    Here read this: 

    https://thegrayzone.com/2021/04/30/xinjiang-forced-labor-china-uyghur/
    And we’re supposed to believe obvious propaganda from a totally unknown website, right? The article you link to is nothing more than a Chinese disinformation site. I was going to point out the China apologists that inhabit this tech forum and here you come with the perfect example. Oh no, China is God’s example of what human rights should be. The Uyghurs are not being oppressed, they are happy with their life under Chinese totalitarianism. All hail Xi Jinping, bringer of prosperity and wealth to the people. Get ready for the next Great Leap Forward!
    edited May 10 pscooter63qwerty52muthuk_vanalingamdysamoria123Goelijahg
  • Reply 7 of 29
    tedz98tedz98 Posts: 75member
    On so many levels (geopolitical, IP theft, militarism, political/societal, supply chain, pharmaceuticals, etc.) it makes a whole lot of sense for Apple and other companies to develop long term plans to at least reduce in a significant way their reliance on China for labor, parts, factories, etc. Granted China is a massive country with a huge population that outside companies would love to tap into for revenue. And China certainly incentivizes outside companies to build infrastructure in China if they want to sell goods in China. But there is an over reliance on China for parts and production that needs to be reduced.
    lkruppBeatssteven n.muthuk_vanalingamdysamoriaanantksundaramelijahgAlex_V
  • Reply 8 of 29
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 993member
    123Go said:
    It must be very difficult for Apple and other companies  to investigate claims like this in a totalitarian country like China. May be it is time to pull out of China even if it costly in the short term.
    These companies don’t want to look too hard, as they generate tremendous amounts of money doing business with China. 
    dysamoria123Goelijahg
  • Reply 9 of 29
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,713member
    A new report on Monday claims....
    Do we need to read any further?

    it's about the same as the infamous:  "Many people are saying...."  from Trump.

    No, if you have evidence, then present it.   This "A report claims" bullshit is, most often, bullshit -- no matter how many reports or claims are made.  Repetition of a lie doesn't miraculously change to it the truth -- except in the magical world of propaganda and especially smear campaigns.

    But, the jihadists will always and automatically take "a report claims" to be final, definitive proof.

    In this case:
    Jihadist:   "A report claims...."
    Apple:   "We looked.   Never happened"
    Jihadist:   "Obviously it happened because a report claimed it happened.   Apple must be in on it.
    danyaklkrupppscooter63
  • Reply 10 of 29
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,642member
    No word from these reports as to whether any other companies get parts from these companies.  Surely they aren’t solely Apple suppliers.  
    1. From the article you're quoting:
    "According to The Information, other U.S. and Western companies that work with the seven identified suppliers include Google, Samsung, Amazon, Tesla, Dell, Lenovo, BMW, Cisco, and HP, among others."

    2. Why am I not surprised the first response to the article is a quote looking to point the finger elsewhere and spread the blame.  If the rumors are true, involvement by other companies doesn't lessen the impact of Apple's involvement.  "They do it too has never been a good excuse"  I'm also sure Apple would never use it.  That's an excuse some Apple fans like to trot out when Apple could be involved with something less than respectable.   Apple has shown time and again, when verifiable evidence exists, they act on it.  No need to attempt deflection towards other companies.   

    You proved his point so well.

    The issue is that iKnockoff morons like to point all the world’s problems to Apple even if their own sacred knockoff Apple companies do the EXACT SAME.

    Find me an article that says “Samsung supplier” etc. I’ve never seen one because Apple hate gets more people talking even if Apple isn’t involved. The only way I’d imagine an article NOT mention Apple first/exclusively would be on a company-specific site and even those sites use Apple to shit on Apple.

    Apple DOES NOT own any of these companies that generate negative anti-Apple clickbait.
    edited May 10 pscooter63
  • Reply 11 of 29
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,642member
    This is gonna be a field day for the media as usual. The same iKnockoff morons will claim “Apple hires slaves!!”

    Tomorrows headline:
    “Slave master used iPhone to play Candy Crush”
    lkrupp
  • Reply 12 of 29
    danyakdanyak Posts: 30member
    Yes, the Uyghur forced labor allegations do appear to be another “WMD” “Steele Dossier” politically and ideologically motivated attack.  I’ve read many articles tracing the actual sources of these allegations and they go back to anti-communist and Taiwan separatist groups and individuals and an uncritical mainstream media that seems intent on magnifying US policies of demonizing nations that don’t toe the US line.  It’s like WMD and Russian Collusion and many similar scenarios where vague and ambiguous “links” and “possible” evidence then are repeated until they become accepted fact in US media.  No Lynch mobs, please.
    GeorgeBMacJWSC
  • Reply 13 of 29
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,814member
    tedz98 said:
    On so many levels (geopolitical, IP theft, militarism, political/societal, supply chain, pharmaceuticals, etc.) it makes a whole lot of sense for Apple and other companies to develop long term plans to at least reduce in a significant way their reliance on China for labor, parts, factories, etc. Granted China is a massive country with a huge population that outside companies would love to tap into for revenue. And China certainly incentivizes outside companies to build infrastructure in China if they want to sell goods in China. But there is an over reliance on China for parts and production that needs to be reduced.
    That’s really the only answer and in the long run China will discover as companies poull out how their policies have hurt themselves. But this takes time. I’m very sure that Apple and the other companies are actively working to disentangle themselves from China. The trouble is that these supply chains are many levels deep, and have developed over several decades. In some cases it’s exceedingly hard to find out what subcontractor, of a subcontractor, of a subcontractor actually produced a component. Short term Apple has been moving final assembly to India and other countries. However there are layers and layers of components that have to be resourced. In some cases they may ONLY be available from the Chinese supplier. In those cases the device has to be redesigned to not use that component. In some cases that might not even be possible. 

    Sadly, for the moment it should be assumed that Chinese companies use forced labour, either directly or indirectly. At this point I don’t know if we could trust any assertion that it’s not so coming out of China regardless of the source.
    edited May 10 dysamoria
  • Reply 14 of 29
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 864member
    danyak said:
    Yes, the Uyghur forced labor allegations do appear to be another “WMD” “Steele Dossier” politically and ideologically motivated attack.  I’ve read many articles tracing the actual sources of these allegations and they go back to anti-communist and Taiwan separatist groups and individuals and an uncritical mainstream media that seems intent on magnifying US policies of demonizing nations that don’t toe the US line.  It’s like WMD and Russian Collusion and many similar scenarios where vague and ambiguous “links” and “possible” evidence then are repeated until they become accepted fact in US media.  No Lynch mobs, please.
    Nice try, but not nice enough danyak:

    https://newlinesinstitute.org/uyghurs/the-uyghur-genocide-an-examination-of-chinas-breaches-of-the-1948-genocide-convention/
    dysamoria
  • Reply 15 of 29
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    No word from these reports as to whether any other companies get parts from these companies.  Surely they aren’t solely Apple suppliers.  
    Of course they aren’t, and that’s not the point. It doesn’t make Apple less guilty “because other companies do it too”. The goal isn’t to normalize abuse by calling it common.
    CloudTalkinmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 29
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    123Go said:
    It must be very difficult for Apple and other companies  to investigate claims like this in a totalitarian country like China. May be it is time to pull out of China even if it costly in the short term.
    Reasonable take, IMO. Sadly, abuse of manufacturing labor is why most American corporations are there. It’s cheaper to abuse your labor force than to treat them right. That’s why so much manufacturing has ended in the USA. Laissez-faire capitalist types use this as a reason to bash “lazy and self-entitled American workers”, which is the exact wrong response.
    mariowinco
  • Reply 17 of 29
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member

    qwerty52 said:
    No word from these reports as to whether any other companies get parts from these companies.  Surely they aren’t solely Apple suppliers.  

    It has been always like this. It's very frustrating
    Even if there are ten other companies, using parts from the same supplier, mostly is only Apple mentioned in the reports.
    And the next day, all the media in the world is screaming how badly Apple is treating “its employees”, though Apple has nothing to do with it.

    Apple invites it by making claims to be more ethical than other companies. They make themselves notable and they draw attention to themselves with those claims.

    Other companies play the “we don’t get political game”, hoping that keeps the spotlight off their own participation in abuse (whether environmental or ethical).

    Apple is in the right, IMO, to actively and openly take a stand on ethical and environmental issues, because what other megacorporation bothers to do so? Apple’s problem is when they turn a blind eye to some part of these environmental or ethical stances because, ultimately, they’re still quite a greedy corporatist entity.
    muthuk_vanalingamAlex_V
  • Reply 18 of 29
    XedXed Posts: 1,109member
    123Go said:
    It must be very difficult for Apple and other companies  to investigate claims like this in a totalitarian country like China. May be it is time to pull out of China even if it costly in the short term.
    It would be costly in the short term, but how costly? And what about the long term?

    I have to assume Apple has done their homework here. I certainly haven’t seen anything that shows that all component product and assembly could leave China.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,713member
    In 2003 reports claimed that Iraq was building nuclear weapons in specific sites.   But strangely, when investigators physically went into those sites and inspected them they found nothing.   But the reports continued, multiple countries piled on -  and 600,000 people died.

    Here, we have a similar situation:  Unconfirmed reports claim something is happening, but when it is investigated (such as what Apple did) nothing is found.  But, the reports continue.

    It sounds like just another propaganda campaign.

    Likewise, my friend's company just sent him to NewYork to work.   Should I expect to read reports of their  "forced labor"?
  • Reply 20 of 29
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,252member
    If there is evidence backing up these claims, Apple should simply sack these suppliers. Find alternatives, or be willing to incur the cost.

    Apple should put its values where its -- especially Tim Cook's -- mouth is (unless the company/he thinks it only applies to the US).

    It is distressing to see comments here along the lines of, "BuT wHaT ABoUt OthErs...?" as though there is a moral equivalency argument of some sort to be made. Apple should do the right thing. In any event, that day is inevitably coming, so it's probably a good idea for the company to get in front of it and get out of business relationships like (again, assuming it's true).
    edited May 10 muthuk_vanalingamAlex_V
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