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China: 83 major brands implicated in report on forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang assigned to factories across provinces; Includes company responses

In March 2020, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published a report Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang, which identified 83 foreign and Chinese companies as allegedly directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through potentially abusive labour transfer programs. 

ASPI estimates at least 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang and assigned to factories in a range of supply chains including electronics, textiles, and automotives under a central government policy known as ‘Xinjiang Aid’. The report identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that are using Uyghur labour transferred from Xinjiang since 2017.

ASPI reached out to the 83 brands to confirm their relevant supplier details. Where companies responded before publication, they have included their relevant clarifications in their report.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Abercrombie & Fitch, adidas, Amazon, BMW, Gap, H&M, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Nike, North Face, Puma, PVH, Samsung and UNIQLO to respond; their responses are provided. We invited Apple, Esprit, Fila and Victoria's Secret to respond; they did not. We will continue to post further company responses as we receive them. 

Further company comments can also be found in the articles linked below. 

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All components of this story

Article
22 July 2020

Nike says China-based supplier stopped hiring employees from northwest amid forced labour allegations, but critics say further proof is needed

: Radio Free Asia

“Nike Says China-based Supplier Sent All Uyghur Workers 澳门线上真人正规博彩home Amid Forced Labor Allegations”, 21 July 2020

A China-based supplier to Nike has stopped hiring employees from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and sent all workers from the region back 澳门线上真人正规博彩home, the footwear giant said in a statement… amid scrutiny over possible links between its supply chain and forced labor…

… in response to questions about the current state of its supply chain in China, the Oregon-based footwear company said it had confirmed that there are no longer any Uyghurs working for Qingdao Taekwang.

“When reports of the situation in XUAR began to surface last year we engaged with management at Taekwang’s Qingdao factory, in consultation with industry experts, as they evaluated their employment of migrant workers from the region,” Nike said in a statement emailed to RFA’s Uyghur Service.

“Taekwang subsequently stopped recruiting new employees from XUAR to its Qingdao facility in 2019 and has confirmed that all remaining employees from XUAR have now returned 澳门线上真人正规博彩home. Through the diligence process Taekwang shared documents that indicate all employees at the facility, including migrant workers from XUAR, had the ability to end or extend contracts their contracts at any time.”

In its statement, Nike noted that it does not source products or components directly from the XUAR and said it had “confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region,”…

Speaking to RFA… U.S. and commentator Gordon G. Chang questioned Nike’s statement.

“Maybe they’ve sent all the Uyghur workers 澳门线上真人正规博彩home, but I think that Nike needs to show proof that that has in fact occurred because Nike has been making statements that do not appear to be true,” he said, suggesting the company’s statements to The Washington Post for an article the paper published in February were incorrect…

Nike’s response comes a day after the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added to its Entities List 11 Chinese companies involved in alleged human rights abuses in the XUAR… Amongst the entities was Hong Kong-headquartered Esquel Group…

In a statement on its website, Nike claims that it does not have a relationship with Esquel Group, which it said ASPI [Australian Strategic Policy Institute] had inaccurately reported in March…

[Also referred to Apple, BMW, The Gap, Samsung, Sony, Volkswagen, Tommy Hilfiger, Patagonia and Lacoste]

Read the full post here

Company response
24 March 2020

North Face/VF Corp's response

: North Face/ VF Corp

Neither VF nor any of its brands have a relationship with Nanjing Synergy Textiles Co. Ltd. The report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute incorrectly states that The North Face brand has a relationship with Nanjing Synergy Textiles Co. Ltd.

We are deeply disturbed by any report of human rights violations. VF is committed to upholding internationally recognized human rights throughout our global supply chain, including prohibiting any forced labor or modern slavery.

We continuously work to improve supply chain transparency. Over the past several years, we enhanced our cotton traceability efforts to better identify third party suppliers that may be complicit in human rights abuses. We have ended, and will continue to end, all business relationships with any company that refuses to remediate human rights violations when they occur. 

We believe that VF, in partnership with others in our industry, plays an important role in protecting human rights and eradicating forced labor of all kinds from global apparel supply chains. Comprehensive and sustainable solutions require engagement and cooperation across our industry, along with civil society and governments who are willing to engage. VF is and will remain committed to working on solutions. 

Please read our full Anti-Forced Labor & Responsible Recruitment to learn more about our policies, standards, efforts and compliance underpinning our commitment.

Company response
24 March 2020

Puma's response

: Puma

PUMA has no direct relationship with Huafu Top Dyed Melange Yarn Co. Ltd. However, as they are one of the world’s largest cotton yarn suppliers, some of our fabric suppliers buy yarns from them. 

The allegations are severe and we are closely monitoring the situation. We had already raised this issue with partners who we collaborate with in terms of monitoring Tier 3 suppliers (yarn suppliers). We continue to observe the case and conduct further investigations.

Since the publication of ASPI’s report we have reached out to our cotton-based garment manufacturers and mapped the origin of the yarns they are using.

In parallel we have contacted the company Huafu and established that production of Huafu yarns used by PUMA suppliers is limited to two manufacturing units of Huafu, namely their production unit in Vietnam and their production unit in the Zhejiang province in Eastern China.

We have been assured by Huafu that there are no migrant workers from western China in either of those two facilities. Furthermore, Huafu has shared a compliance audit report on their Zhejing facility issued by compliance expert organization Elevate with which was prepared in 2019. This report does not show any indications of forced labor.

In addition, Huafu has invited PUMA and other buyers to carry out an independent assessment at their facilities. We are considering to arrange such an assessment... 

Our Code of Conduct sets strict regulations for our suppliers to ensure an ethical business conduct. Both in our Code of Conduct and our Supply Chain monitoring program, we clearly ban Forced Labor in any form. Our Sustainability Handbook for Social Standards lists proven cases of Forced Labor as a Zero Tolerance Issue.https://about.puma.com/en/sustainability/codes-and-handbooks

Download the full document here

Company response
23 March 2020

Abercrombie & Fitch's response

: spokesperson of Abercrombie & Fitch

Per A&F Co.’s published Vendor Code of Conduct, we do not tolerate use of forced labor and the safety, security and welfare of the people with whom we work is a priority. Our sourcing and sustainability teams closely monitor our network of suppliers to ensure we only work with organizations aligned with our principles and values.

A&F shared with APSI that as part of our regular review of our global supply chain, we decided to stop sourcing from the spinner (detailed on page 32) from 2020 onwards for any of our company’s brands.

However, we were not asked prior to publication about the two other factories listed in the report as our suppliers. We followed up with ASPI after publication to confirm that we do not believe we source from either of the factories listed as supplying us. They made an update to its report on March 3, 2020 (page 38 and 39). 

Company response
23 March 2020

Amazon's response

: Amazon

... Amazon expects all products sold in the Amazon Store or provided to Amazon to be manufactured or produced in accordance with Amazon’s Supply Chain Standards. We do not tolerate the use of forced labor. We regularly assess suppliers, using independent auditors as appropriate, to monitor continued compliance and improvement...

... Given this complex situation, we have taken immediate steps to investigate the Australian Strategic Policy Institute findings and to actively collaborate with industry partners, subject matter experts, governments and other relevant stakeholders to further enhance our due diligence efforts in line with Australian Strategic Policy Institute recommendations. We are also working closely with industry associations such as the Responsible Business Alliance and the National Retail Federation to explore all potential approaches to responsibly address this situation and support both of their recent statements on this issue...

[The full response is attached] 

Download the full document here

Company response
23 March 2020

Gap's response

: Gap Inc.

We are deeply committed to maintaining responsible and ethical practices across our business and seek to uphold and advocate for the fundamental values and human rights of individuals and ethnic groups of all origins.

We can confirm that we do not source any garments from the XUAR region. We also recognize that a significant amount of the world’s cotton supply is grown and spun there. Therefore, we are taking steps to better understand how our global supply chain may be indirectly impacted, including working with our suppliers and actively engaging with industry trade groups, expert stakeholders, and other partners to learn more and advance our shared commitment to respecting human rights.

At Gap Inc., we have strict policies against the use of involuntary labor of any kind in our supply chain. Any instance of forced detention and labor or suppression of an individual’s human rights is unacceptable to us. Such conduct not only violates our Code of Vendor Conduct and Human Rights Policy, but also stands against our fundamental beliefs as a company.

As always, we will continue to actively collaborate with other brands and key stakeholders to explore and implement solutions. For more information on how the U.S. apparel industry is seeking to address this issue, please see the industry association statement published on March 10, 2020.

Download the full document here

Company response
23 March 2020

H&M's response

: H&M Group

... [W]e are deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of forced labour and discrimination of ethnoreligious minorities in Xinjiang...

We do not source products from this region... [W]e have conducted an investigation at all the garment manufacturing factories we work with in China and... concluded that none of them are employing workers from Xinjiang through... labour transfer programmes. Our products are not connected to Huafu’s facility in Anhui province that is mentioned in the ASPI report. However, we have an indirect business relationship with another of Huafus units in Shangyu province. This said, we have reached out to Huafu on this topic following the release of the report and learnt that they have not extended the contract linked to the labor program.

... [W]e are in close contact with human rights experts, other brands, and stakeholders... to evaluate how we can further strengthen our due diligence and responsibly address the situation.

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
19 March 2020

Marks & Spencer's response

: Marks & Spencer

... M&S does not source from Youngor Textile Holdings Co. Ltd., nor the Youngor’s Xinjiang company as claimed.

We are aware of this issue in the China supply chain and the movement of Uyghur people... to provide labour in manufacturing facilitates. As part of our annual audit process we identify the demographics of all workers in our manufacturing sites and as due diligence we have also been conducting additional assessments with our suppliers to identify if there is any employment of Uyghur people. 

... We are committed to collaborating with other brands, stakeholders, supplier partners and expert organisations to responsibly address situations of potential forced labour.

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
17 March 2020

PVH's response

: PVH Corp

We are deeply troubled by the reports of mistreatment and coercive labor practices involving Uighur and other minorities inside and outside Xinjiang Province... While our suppliers have assured us that no violations exist within their business operations, we take seriously recent reports on the issue.

This situation is extremely complex... We continue to assess how to leverage our networks most effectively and work with our partners to uphold international labor standards given the current situation in the region... PVH is also collaborating with industry associations including American Apparel & Footwear Association... [RILA, NRF, USFIA and FDRA]... PVH and its affiliated brands are in full support of the views expressed in the Joint Statement issued by these associations.

PVH takes its role in addressing this issue seriously and will continue to work with industry partners, civil society and government on this matter. 

[The full repsonse is attached]

Read the full post here

Download the full document here

Company response
16 March 2020

adidas' response

: adidas

... adidas is treating the allegations detailed in the ASPI report very seriously...

Based on our investigations... we can confirm that we hold no direct contractual relationship with any of the named businesses. In spring 2019, we explicitly required our materials suppliers not to buy yarn from the Xinjiang region. That included a prohibition on sourcing yarn from Huafu Top Dyed Melange Yarn Co. Ltd...

Haoyuanpeng Clothing Manufacturing Co. Ltd is neither an active nor ized entity in our supply chain. We have engaged directly with the factory’s management team and they have issued adidas with an apology, for having falsely displayed adidas logos on their website and building. These have now been removed.

We do not produce goods in Qingdao Jifa Huajin Garment Co. Ltd. It is not an approved or ized supplier for adidas. We have reached out to the parent company, Jifa, to understand more.

The above actions form part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that there are no supply chain linkages to XUAR, or to the export of labor from this region. Those efforts include close engagement with the Fair Labor Association... and our collaboration with industry associations in North America, who have recently issued a Statement...

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here