The Xinjiang Data Project


'Uyghurs for sale' report

‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang.

By Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, Danielle Cave, Dr James Leibold, Kelsey Munro & Nathan Ruser

The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen.
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    Based on  Original Report by Australian Strategic Policy Institute March 2020

    This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps.

    Uyghur transfers to other parts of China from 2017 to 2020

    In factories far away from home, they typically live in segregated dormitories, undergo organised Mandarin and ideological training, are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from practicing Islam.

    Government documents show that they are assigned minders and have limited freedom of movement.

    Local governments and private brokers are paid a price per head by the Xinjiang provincial government to organise the labour assignments.

    It is extremely difficult for Uyghurs to refuse or escape these work assignments, which are enmeshed with the apparatus of detention and political indoctrination both inside and outside of Xinjiang.

    In addition to constant surveillance, the threat of arbitrary detention hangs over minority citizens who refuse their government-sponsored work assignments. 

    Labour-hire advertisement offering young Uyghur workers under ‘semi-military style management’
    ‘1,000 minorities, awaiting online booking’ (1000少数民族,在线等预约), Baidu HR Forum (百度 HR吧), 27 November 2019
    October 2019, Uyghur workers at Taekwang Shoe Manufacturing waving the Chinese flag
    ‘Strengthening patriotism education and building a bridge of national unity’ (加强爱国主义教育搭建民族团结连心桥), China Ethnic Religion Net (中国民族宗教网), 07 November 2019

    This report examines three case studies. The first one being a manufacturer for Nike in eastern China.

    The factory is equipped with watchtowers, barbed-wire fences and police guard boxes. Outside work hours, the Uyghur workers attend a school where they study Mandarin, sing the Chinese national anthem and receive ‘vocational training’ and ‘patriotic education’. The curriculum closely mirrors that of Xinjiang’s ‘re-education camps’.

    The Uyghur workers, unlike their Han counterparts, are reportedly unable to go home for holiday.

    The second case study is on a factory in Anhui province, The Haoyuanpeng Clothing Manufacturing Co. Ltd, that claims to supply sportswear multinationals Adidas and Fila.

    In 2018, the factory directly recruited Uyghur labor from a ‘re-education camp’ in Xinjiang. The company also recently set up a highly secure factory in Xinjiang’s Shule (Yengixahar) county.

    Haoyuanpeng’s supply chain

    In a recent interview, Haoyuanpeng President Zeng Yifa (曾亿法) told state media that he established a factory in Xinjiang because it was difficult to find young workers in other parts of China, or even abroad, concluding:

    "Although the quality of North Korean workers is good, I’m reluctant to spend money on foreign workers. In the end, I chose Xinjiang."
    Zeng Yifa, Haoyuanpeng President
    Tim Cook’s Weibo post from O-Film’s Guangzhou factory in December 2017
    ‘Apple CEO Cook tours O-Film Technology Co Ltd: iPhone X/8 selfie screams “cheers”’ (苹果CEO库克参观欧菲光科技:iPhone X/8自拍大喊“茄子”), IT Home (IT之家), 06 December 2017

    In the third case study, we identify several Chinese factories making components for Apple or their suppliers using Uyghur labour.

    One company, O-Film Technology Co. Ltd manufactured the ‘selfie cameras’ for iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

    In the last week of April 2017, 700 Uyghurs were transferred from Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang to an O-Film factory in Jiangxi province.

    Illustrations courtesy of Yip Wong

    The report includes an appendix that details the factories involved and the brands that appear to have elements of forced Uyghur labour in their supply chains.

    It also makes specific recommendations for the Chinese government, companies, foreign governments and civil society organisations.

    Download full report
    ASPI ReportUyghurs for Sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiangby Vicky Xu, Danielle Cave, James Leibold, Kelsey Munro, Nathan Ruser
    Mar 1, 2020
    Forced LabourRe-educationDetention+1
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