Multiple reports such as “Uyghurs for Sale” published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and “In Broad Daylight” published by the Helena Kennedy Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, showed that global supply chains are tainted with serious human rights violations in China targeting Uyghurs as well as other ethnic minority citizens. Adda Central Purchasing Body, the Church of Sweden, and the Swedish Regions jointly produced a report focusing on the risk of state-imposed forced labour in their electronics supply chain.
Globalworks contributed with a forced labour risk assessment of 23 manufacturing sites in China. The assessment relied on publicly available articles and documents. We found that the risk of state-imposed labour includes more vulnerable groups and is more widespread than revealed by earlier reports. We concluded that seven out of the 23 manufacturing sites took part in state-sanctioned labour transfer schemes between 2017 and 2021. All of the schemes were associated with the Government’s poverty alleviation program. The implementation of the program involves pressure on farmers and herdsmen in marginalised areas to accept government mediated employment offers. For politically oppressed groups this type of “industrial poverty alleviation” is systemically integrated with coercive means to participate and submit to ‘reeducation’. But even other ethnic minorities and marginalized groups are pressured to participate as well. Consequently, there may be many more victims of forced labour practices than previously anticipated.
Commonly, the issue of state-imposed forced labour in China is examined by looking at recruitment methods or discriminatory treatment of vulnerable workers at factories. These auditing methods proved to be inadequate as many of the brands were unaware of the occurrence of forced labour. Despite the importance of triangulating information, IT brands, the Responsible Business Alliance and auditing firms did not use public reports and government documents to identify forced labour risks.