Corporate giants including Nike and Apple face growing calls from China’s Uighur people over forced labour.
Several Activists have launched a movement accusing firms of “bolstering and benefiting” from exploitation of the Muslim minority group in the country.
The US has also increased economic pressure, and warned firms against doing business in Xinjiang due to the labour abuses.
Activists and Politicians say foreign companies need to do more if they do not want to be involve in the Chinese government’s human rights abuses.
Chloe Cranston of Anti-Slavery International said “Brands and retailers should have left long ago, but they haven’t and that is why this public call to action is important and necessary”. Anti-Slavery International is one of the more than 180 organisations involved in the pressure campaign.
“It’s not just about ending a relationship with one supplier. It’s really about taking a comprehensive approach,” he added.
The US Congress and reports by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) have found that thousands of Uighurs people have been sent to work in factories across China; under circumstances the ASPI report said “strongly suggest forced labour”. It linked with 80 high-profile brands, including Apple, Nike, and Gap.
In several statements Nike and other brands have said they are looking into the issue.
“Conducting on-going diligence with our suppliers in China to identify and assess potential risks related to employment of Uighur or other ethnic minorities,” said Nike.
The company further added “it does not source materials directly from Xinjiang, the region in western China that is home to much of the country’s Uighur population and many of the factories said to use the labour.”
Apple also released its statement over the situation and stated “We have found no evidence of any forced labour on Apple production lines and we plan to continue monitoring”.
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