According to a report by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), a research group of nonprofit monitoring organization Campaign for Accountability, Amazon hires Chinese suppliers with ties to forced labor (via NBC News).
Despite evidence linking these suppliers to Uyghur labor camps, Amazon is accused in the report of continuing to cooperate with them.
The Uyghurs, China’s Muslim ethnic minority, are predominantly concentrated in the Xinjiang region of the country. The organization endured a variety of human rights violations in the country for several years, including detention centers, continual surveillance, mass sterilization, and forced labor.
As the TTP points out, China utilizes “labor transfers” to take Uyghurs from Xinjiang to factories across China and compel them into labor Programmes that are “frequently coercive and tied to a network of mass imprisonment and re-education camps,” according to the TTP.
The TTP mentions five Amazon suppliers who have been publicly accused for being “directly or indirectly” tied to forced labor of China’s Uyghur people in the Xinjiang area (available as a CSV file in fine print underneath the site’s supply chain map). Amazon’s suppliers are responsible for producing Amazon-branded items such as the Echo, Fire TV, Kindle, and the Amazon Basics line of cheap products, among others.
Three Amazon suppliers, Lux share Precision Industry, AcBel Polytech, and Lens Technology, were found to have employed forced labor, according to the TTP. Indirectly, two more companies, GoerTek and Hefei BOE Optoelectronics, are connected, reportedly utilizing forced labor suppliers.
Several earlier studies have tied these corporations to forced labor, including Lux share and Lens Technology, which have both been linked to forced labor in explosive publications. Despite the fact that these stories linked to Apple’s shady supplier background, the information and The Washington Post were accurate.
Digging In More Details
Amazon’s supply chain guidelines (PDF) specifically prohibit forced labor, as the TTP notes out. The criteria stipulate that “Amazon vendors shall not use forced labor – slave, jail, indentured, bonded, or otherwise.” “All work must be voluntary, and employees must be free to leave and terminate their employment or other employment status with reasonable notice.”
The TTP discovered a number of accounts selling Xinjiang cotton, which was outlawed by the US government last year, in addition to reports that Amazon utilized suppliers tied to forced labor. Xinjiang has also been sanctioned by a number of countries, with the United States slapping a comprehensive ban on imports from the region in December.
Apple and Amazon aren’t the only firms established in the United States with ties to Xinjiang and forced labor. Tesla was chastised earlier this year for opening a showroom in Xinjiang, and was also named as a suspected customer of the aforementioned Lens Technology company in the December 2020 TTP report.
In a response to The Edge, Amazon spokesperson Erika Reynoso stated, “Amazon complies with the rules and regulations in every nation in which it operates and expects suppliers to comply to our supply chain standards.”