China Uighurs ‘moved into factory forced labour’ for foreign brands

China Uighurs ‘moved into factory forced labour’ for foreign brands

Thousands of Muslims from China’s Uighur minority group are working under coercive conditions at factories that supply some of the world’s biggest brands, a new report says.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute said this was the next phase in China’s re-education of Uighurs.

China has already detained about a million Uighurs at internment camps, punishing and indoctrinating them.

Officials say the camps are aimed at countering extremism.

The ASPI report comes after a senior Chinese official told reporters in December that members of the minority group being held in the camps had now “graduated”.

What does the report say?

Between 2017 and 2019, the ASPI think tank estimates that more than 80,000 Uighurs were transferred out of the far western Xinjiang autonomous region to work in factories across China. It said some were sent directly from detention camps.

ASPI said the Uighurs were moved through labour transfer schemes operating under a central government policy known as Xinjiang Aid.

According to the report, the factories claim to be part of the supply chain for 83 well-known global brands, including Nike, Apple and Dell.

The report said it was “extremely difficult” for Uighurs to refuse or escape the work assignments, with the threat of “arbitrary detention” hanging over them.

It added that there was evidence of local governments and private brokers being “paid a price per head” by the Xinjiang government to organise the assignments, which ASPI describes as “a new phase of the Chinese government’s ongoing repression” of Uighurs.