Senator accuses industry giants of supporting forced labor
American companies are subject to China’s strict and, often repressive legislations. Be it sharing user information with the Chinese government, or allowing only those apps, that the country’s lawmakers won’t frown upon, to function. And now, another allegation has mounted against giants, including the likes of Apple, Nike, and Amazon. This time around, the privately owned companies have been slammed by Republican US Senator Marco Rubio, on grounds of “turning a blind eye” to the Asian country’s policies regarding forcedslammed by Republican US Senator Marco Rubio, on grounds of “turning a blind eye” to the Asian country’s policies regarding forced labor.
Rubio further alleged that by not taking a stance against the same, the firms are making American consumers “complicit” in their questionable dealings.
Profit from Forced Labor?
The Senator further called Apple, Amazon, Nike, and even beverage maker Coca-Cola, out for “profiting” from China’s abuse of its citizens, while speaking at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding China’s recent crackdown on minority Muslim communities, including Uyghurs, in its western Xinjiang region. He alleged that many American companies have, for years, been indulging in, or supporting, forced labor. They did so either by directly ‘benefiting’ from forced labors, or by ordering in supplies from people alleged of indulging in such crimes.
Genetic Sequencing and Genocide
His comments were further backed by Senator Ed Markley, who presided over the hearing along with Tim Kaine, another fellow Democrat. Markley further claimed the Chinese government and its “authoritarian surveillance industry” had worked in favour of one too many technology companies from he United States. He also said that Xinjiang is a popular market for many of the products manufactured by these firms.
Senator Rubio continued his slew of accusations, claiming that Thermo Fisher Scientific (a firm that had vowed to stop marketing equipment for genetic sequencing in Xinjiang in 2019, following reports by rights groups that a whole DNA sequence database on Uyghurs was being set up by the authorities there), was still indulging in providing such products to the region, further enabling the abuse of human rights.
Xinjiang authorities have repeatedly been called out for arbitrarily detaining a million or so Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities since 2016, so as to facilitate forced labor. China has been accuses of genocide towards Uyghurs by many countries, including Brazil, Canada, and of course, the States.
The Asian country however, has been denying these allegations for years, saying that the camps where the minorities are supposedly detained, are in fact sites where the country carries out vocation training for workers, while working to prevent religious extremism.
Human Rights Watch China has also expressed its disapproval of the country’s “extreme repression and surveillance”, through Director Sophie Richardson.
As per Richardson, human rights often get ignored since the policies in China make it impossible for companies to focus on them. She claims that inspection of facilities or communications with workers can invite reprisal.