An Apple spokesperson told the publication that the company confirmed that Lens Technology “has not received any transfer of labor from Uyghur workers in Xinjiang.” Of the society supplier progress report says Apple conducted 1,142 supply chain “assessments” in 49 different countries in 2019 to enforce its supplier code of conduct and supplier accountability standards, but declined to inform the Publish if Lens was one of the controlled companies. In November, Apple spokesperson Josh Rosenstock said to Publish that the company “conducted a detailed investigation of our suppliers in China and found no evidence of forced labor on Apple production lines.”
The issue of Uyghur forced labor in China has gained increased attention this year; Congress presented a bill earlier this year, it would prevent products made with forced labor in China’s Uyghur region from entering the United States, and companies would be held accountable for these human rights violations. The bill was passed in the House in September, but since then it has been revealed by both Information and The Washington Post that Apple paid to pressure Congress to water down the bill. Nike and Coca-Cola also reportedly pushed back against potential legislation by lobbying. Although it has already passed in the House, the Senate has yet to vote.
Publicly, Apple has been consistent in its stance on forced labor: CEO Tim Cook testified at a congressional hearing in July, saying that “forced labor is heinous. We would not tolerate it at Apple. Cook also said the company would end all relationships with suppliers who used forced labor – but the Publish says Lens Technology is one of “at least five” companies in Apple’s supply chain that allegedly use forced labor.
This is not the first time that Apple has come under fire for its working practices in China. For much of the past decade, the company has dealt with issues arising from poor working conditions in factories all over China, maybe especially in Foxconn manufacturing plants. The company appears to have improved things in recent years, but issues persist, such as more recent claims about reports of student workers in factories. Likewise, the two Amazon and You’re here have also had their share of complaints of labor violations and abuse of foreign workers.
Buzzfeed News has reported extensively on potential human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang region, detailing how the country has built a large number of prison camps in recent years as he intensifies a campaign against Muslim minority groups like the Uyghurs. Yesterday the post revealed that she had found evidence of over 100 factory buildings directly at the site of the prison camps where it could force inmates to work. In all, Buzzfeed News estimates that more than a million Muslim minorities have been detained in China since 2016.
China, for its part, is work with the European Union on an investment agreement that would include provisions according to which the country “would make continuous and sustained efforts” to work towards the prohibition of forced labor. Given the allegations of mass imprisonment and forced labor in the Xinjiang region, however, China clearly has a lot of work to do before its allegations of tackling the problem can be taken seriously.