- Apple suppliers have used thousands of Uyghur Muslims in forced labor programs in China, The Information reports.
- China has been accused of genocide of the minority group, detaining them in internment camps.
- Apple in the past has denied using suppliers who rely on forced labor in China.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Seven of Apple’s suppliers were found to be linked to suspected forced labor of Uyghur Muslims and other persecuted groups sourced from the Xinjiang region, according to an investigation by The Information.
Apple has previously denied using suppliers that rely on the forced labor of Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group that has faced persecution in China. The Information’s investigation suggests the use of forced labor by some of Apple’s largest suppliers is more widespread than previously reported.
Apple did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
As the Information notes, just one of the suppliers is in Xinjiang, the western region of China that consists predominately of the Uyghur Muslim population, which is native to the area. Other workers were shipped from Xinjiang to companies like Luxshare, which is one of Apple’s biggest Chinese suppliers, according to records viewed by the outlet.
Avary Holding, which makes circuit boards for Apple devices in the Chinese city of Huai’an, added 400 Xinjiang labor workers to its workforce between 2019 and 2020 at one of its factories, per the report. Avary denied those claims to The Information. And Shenzhen Deren Electronic, which has made antennas and internal cables for Apple, has taken in 1,000 labor workers from Xinjiang, according to the report.
The outlet also viewed a video produced by AcBel Polytech, one of the suppliers, that shows how the company used forced labor from Xinjiang workers sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
Apple does not publicly list the suppliers that it works with, but the publication verified their links to the company through official documents as well as through current employees at the suppliers. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other companies were also linked to the suppliers in question, according to The Information.
One supplier, Lens Technology, which has provided Apple with glass for iPhones, has received 600 workers from Xinjiang since 2018, according to The Information. Apple responded to a previous report of Lens using forced Uyghur laborers in December saying, in part, it has “zero tolerance for forced labor” and did not find any evidence that Uyghurs were sent to the supplier’s facilities.
A March 2020 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute also found connections between Apple suppliers and forced Uyghur labor.
Human Rights Watch estimates 1 million Uyghur Muslims are being persecuted in China. The country has detained them in internment camps, forcing them to abandon their culture for Chinese customs, like learning the Mandarin language.
China has pushed back on the characterization of the camps, claiming they are for “reeducation” purposes and calling Uyghur Muslims terrorists and religious extremists, as Business Insider’s Alexandra Ma reported.
If they refuse to participate in the work camps, they are sent to jail. Reports have surfaced of torture at these camps, including one woman who said she witnessed a gang rape and medical experiments on the prisoners while she was teaching Chinese propaganda in the camps. The government has also been accused of sterilizing Uyghur women.
International human rights advocates and countries around the world have condemned China’s actions. Human Rights Watch said in April that China is committing “crimes against humanity” through its prison centers for Uyghurs.