Scores of Chinese and foreign companies producing “well-known global brands” may be involved in human trafficking, forced labour and other human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, a United Nations working group said on Monday, calling more attention to an issue that Beijing is increasingly on the defensive about.
“Several experts appointed by the Human Rights Council said they had received information that connected over 150 domestic Chinese and foreign domiciled companies to serious allegations of human rights abuses against Uygur workers,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.
No specific companies were named, but the working group mentioned the sectors of agribusiness, tech, automotive, and textile and garment.
The report listed popular clothing companies Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Gap, Calvin Klein, H&M, L.L.Bean, Lacoste, Nike, The North Face, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Skechers, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara, and Victorias Secret, as well as General Motors, Goertek, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagon, and more. Many of these companies prolifically spoke out against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd in May.
“This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps,” a summary of the report said. “The estimated figure is conservative and the actual figure is likely to be far higher.”
“Uygur workers have reportedly been subjected to exploitative working and abusive living conditions that may constitute arbitrary detention, human trafficking, forced labour and enslavement by the use of forced labour,” according to the statement about findings gathered by the OHCHR’s Working Group on Business and Human Rights.