US Senator criticizes Apple, Amazon and Nike for allowing forced labor in China
A US Senator on Thursday slammed US companies, including Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Nike Inc (NKE.N), for turning a blind eye to allegations of forced labor in China , arguing that they made American consumers complicit in Beijing’s repressive policies.
Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on China’s crackdown on Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in its western region of Xinjiang, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that many American companies do not did not realize that they were “profiting” from the abuses of the Chinese government.
“For too long, companies like Nike and Apple and Amazon and Coca-Cola have used forced labor. They either benefited from forced labor or sourced from suppliers suspected of using forced labor,” Rubio said. “These companies, unfortunately, made us all complicit in these crimes.”
Senator Ed Markey, who led the hearing with fellow Democrat Tim Kaine, said a number of US tech companies have taken advantage of the Chinese government’s “authoritarian surveillance industry” and that many of their products “are currently in use in Xinjiang.”
Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO.N) said in 2019 it would stop selling DNA sequencing equipment in Xinjiang after human rights groups and media documented how authorities were building a base DNA data for Uyghurs. But critics say the move hasn’t gone far enough.
“All the evidence shows that they continue to provide those products that have enabled these human rights violations,” Rubio said of Thermo Fisher, noting that he had written to the Massachusetts-based company on several occasions at this time. subject.
“Whenever we receive proof of forced labor, we take action and suspend the selling privileges,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Coca-Cola declined to comment. The other companies mentioned did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters.
U.S. lawmakers are seeking to pass legislation that would ban imports of products made in Xinjiang over concerns about forced labor.
Rights groups, researchers, former residents and some Western lawmakers say authorities in Xinjiang facilitated forced labor by arbitrarily detaining around one million Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim minorities in a network of camps since. 2016.
The government of the United States and the parliaments of countries, including Britain and Canada, have called China’s policy towards the Uyghurs genocide. China denies the abuses, saying the camps are for vocational training and countering religious extremism.
Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch director for China, told the Senate panel that Beijing’s “extreme repression and surveillance” made it impossible for companies to conduct human rights due diligence.
“Inspectors cannot visit facilities unannounced or speak to workers without fear of retaliation. Some companies do not appear willing or unable to obtain accurate information about their own supply chains,” she said. declared.
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