TTP Investigation: Apple’s Uyghur Dilemma Grows
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2021
Contact: Michael Clauw, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group that runs the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), released a report revealing yet another Apple business partner with suspected links to forced Uyghur labor in China: wind turbine maker Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd. TTP’s research shows the company, which serves as a partner to Apple in its effort to achieve carbon neutrality, has at least one facility that was in advanced talks in 2016 to receive a “labor export” from a majority-Uyghur area in Xinjiang more than 500 miles away. Such “labor export” transfers are a hallmark of China’s forced labor campaign, experts say.
CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “This is not the first time we’ve tied Apple’s partners in China to the well-documented forced labor program, and if the company doesn’t take real steps to re-examine its supply chain and partnerships, it may not be the last. Apple’s operations in China are crucial to its success, but if that success stems from participating in human rights abuses, then consumers may want to take their business elsewhere.”
For the past year, Apple has faced growing scrutiny over Chinese suppliers tied to the use of Uyghur forced labor, including cases documented by TTP. The iPhone giant reportedly severed its relationship with one accused supplier, O-Film, but has yet to meaningfully address well-documented allegations about several others, including Lens Technology, which TTP detailed in January.
In addition to the “labor export” issue, TTP found other red flags about Apple’s wind partner Goldwind. For example, Goldwind’s founder and chairman has personally participated in a Chinese government campaign that promotes ideological education of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and even puts Communist Party members in the homes of local Xinjiang families. Human rights groups say the program is used for surveillance and political indoctrination of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.
Goldwind’s recent deal with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) is another troubling connection. XPCC, a quasi-governmental paramilitary organization, controls extensive areas of Xinjiang and, according to researchers, regularly uses forced labor for cotton production. In December 2020, four months after the U.S. slapped sanctions on XPCC over its connection to human rights abuses, Goldwind signed an agreement to supply power to a settlement controlled by the organization.
Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “Apple’s supply chain in China is heavily layered, but that’s no excuse for the company to let forced labor slip into any part of it—whether it’s the touch screens that go into its iPhones, or the electricity that keeps the lights on in a factory. Apple needs to conduct a serious audit of its partnerships to purge any dealings with companies contributing to human suffering and announce plans to ensure that these types of relationships are not struck in the future.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.