Apple Is one of the firms criticised in a damning new report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) looking at the treatment of Uyghur Muslim workers. The research laid out multiple points in Apple’s supply chain where workers from the minority group had been mistreated.
Allegations Uyghur Muslims in Apple’s Supply Chain Subjected to ‘Re-Education’
In one of the case studies published on Friday, ASPI said that Uyghur Muslims had undergone “re-education” whilst working in the Apple supply chain. One such example was said to be at Apple contractor O-Film Technology. The firm manufactured the selfie-camera that appears on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. They also supply parts to the likes of Huawei, Lenovo, and Samsung. Tim Cook visited the company’s Guangzhou factory in December 2017, posting a picture of his time there on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform. The report outlined claims that:
Prior to Cook’s visit, between 28 April and 1 May 2017, 700 Uyghurs were reportedly transferred from Lop county, Hotan Prefecture, in Xinjiang to work at a separate O-Film factory in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.
It is alleged that having been transferred, the Uyghur workers were then supposed to “gradually alter their ideology,” and become more sympathetic to the Chinese Communist Party. Apple had put out a press release praising O-Film for its “humane approach towards employees.” That press release has since been deleted.
Other Supply Chain Issues
Other companies in the Apple supply chain alleged to have been involved in the mistreatment of Uyghur workers. For example, backlight and battery case maker Hubei Yihong, whose parent company names Apple as a customer, facilitated demands for the “patriotic education” of Uyghur Muslims, it is claimed.
Furthermore, ASPI cited a September 2019 report that said Foxconn workers, including in the Zhengzhou factory, where half the world’s iPhones are said to be made, worked over 100 hours of overtime each month. Uyghur workers are also employed at that factory.
TMO contacted Apple regarding the claims made in the report. The company had not responded at the time of this writing.