There’s an old joke that just about everything is made in China, a quick laugh that has its roots in actual fact the more you examine it. When it comes to technology, chances are that whatever piece of technology you’re holding right now was made in the land of the rising dragon. Thanks to the massive manpower of their population, numerous factories within which to manufacture goods and a generally high level of quality, China is the world’s go-to destination for pumping out new gadgets to market.
Even if they do use forced labour to do so.
In a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute via the BBC, it’s alleged that China is leaning heavily on around 80,000 Uighurs and other ethnic minorities to get the job done. China has a massive hate-on for its Muslim population and other religious beliefs that don’t conform to China’s state-approved belief systems. After a 2014 bombing at the Xinjiang train station, president Xi Jinping launched the “People’s War on Terror” and transformed the region into a police state that began rounding up Uighurs and sending them to “re-education camps”.
Beyond that, the report claims that between 2017 and 2019 Uighurs were sent from detention camps to factories to pump out products for the likes of Nike, Sony and Huawei. Could they have refused to be sent to these factories? Possibly, but the report says that Uighurs found it “extremely difficult” to avoid being sent to factories as the threat of “arbitrary detention” was used to coerce them into complying with the Chinese government. Even worse, evidence points to local government and private brokers receiving cash from the Xinjiang government for every Uighur they signed up for forced labour.
“Our report makes it really clear that the dispossession of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang also has a really strong character of economic exploitation,” report co-author Nathan Ruser explained to the BBC.
We have this unseen and previously hidden contamination of the global supply chain.
A total of 83 companies were named in the report, including the big three of video games: Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft making good use of the indentured labour to pass the slavings onto their consumers. Brands are currently doing lip service damage control now that the information has leaked out and while there’s no guarantee that your new iPad or Nintendo Switch was made by a repressed Muslim who got thrown into a prison for having a different belief system, chances are high that you’re reading this story right now on a product built through an allegedly abusive labour transfer program.
Last Updated: March 3, 2020