Amazon’s supply chain is under the spotlight after a new report revealed that the e-commerce giant continued to use suppliers that have been tied to forced labour camps in China’s Xinjiang region.
The Tech Transparency Project, an information and research hub based in the US, found that Amazon’s public list of suppliers included five companies that have been directly or indirectly linked to forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang.
Three Amazon suppliers, which produce devices and goods for Amazon’s private brands, are reported to have used forced labour directly: Luxshare Precision Industry, AcBel Polytech, and Lens Technology.
Another two, GoerTek and Hefei BOE Optoelectronics, are themselves supplied by factories that have been implicated in forced labour.
The report also revealed that the Seattle-based company continued to work with Chinese textile firm Esquel Group as a supplier for more than a year after the US authorities imposed sanctions on a Esquel subsidiary for its involvement in forced labour in China.
In response to these findings, an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to City A.M.: “Amazon complies with the laws and regulations in all jurisdictions in which it operates, and expects suppliers to adhere to our Supply Chain Standards.”
“We take allegations of human rights abuses seriously, including those related to the use or export of forced labor. Whenever we find or receive proof of forced labor, we take action”, they added.
However, this is not the first time a tech giant has been accused using forced labour in China.
In a May 2021, the tech publication The Information released a report about Apple’s use of suppliers that linked the iPhone maker to forced labour.
Citing local sources, it found that Chinese tech firm and Silicon Valley supplier Luxshare received “as many as hundreds” of Xinjiang workers between 2017 and 2020.
In response, Apple stated that they found no evidence of forced labour anywhere they operate.
It told the publication that it looks for forced labour as part of “every assessment” it conducts.
“We will continue doing all we can to protect workers and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect,” the Apple spokesperson said.