A recent report accuses General Motors and GM’s Chinese automotive partner, SAIC, of benefitting from forced labor at various factories located in China.
According to The Detroit Bureau, which cites Australian think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute as issuing the report dated March 1st, the Chinese government is forcing members of the Muslim minority Uyghur ethnic group to work in factories producing goods for various companies.
In addition to General Motors, several other companies are also accused of benefitting from forced labor, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen, as well as several major technology and clothing companies.
The accusations directly contradict General Motors’ previous statements on human rights. For example, in the company’s recent Sustainability report, GM stated it is “committed to sustainable and responsible sourcing of goods and services throughout [its] supply chain.”
“GM has a zero-tolerance policy against the use of child labor and prohibits abusive treatment to employees and corrupt business practices in our supply base,” the Sustainability report states.
Meanwhile, the recent Australian Strategic Policy Institute report indicates that the Chinese government “has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far west of Xinjiang,” to work in factories across the country.
“Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen,” the report states.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute report states that between 2017 and 2019, more than 80,000 Uyghurs were moved out of the region of Xinjiang to work at these factories. However, the report notes that the estimate of 80,000 is conservative, and that the actual figure is likely much higher.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute says that the displaced Uyghurs are forced to live in segregated dormitories, participate in Mandarin and ideological training, undergo constant surveillance, and are forbidden to take part in religious observances.
China has drawn international criticism for its extrajudicial re-education camps in the Xinjiang region, with this Australian recent report uncovering a new phase in the nation’s social re-engineering efforts for minority citizens. The Muslim minority Uyghur have previously pushed for autonomy, with the Chinese government responding by labeling the Uyghurs as potential terrorists.