In a new report, “Uyghurs for Sale,” the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) documents how the mass transfer of Uighur and other ethnic minorities from region of Xinjiang to factories across the country benefits Western business.
Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen.
The ASIP report estimates that more than 80,000 Uighurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019.
The estimated figure is conservative and the actual figure is likely to be far higher. In factories far away from home, they typically live in segregated dormitories, undergo organised Mandarin and ideological training outside working hours, are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from participating in religious observances. Numerous sources, including government documents, show that transferred workers are assigned minders and have limited freedom of movement.
The “re-education” of the Uighurs, organized and implemented by China’s Ministry of State Security, deploys the latest in Western technology to forcibly assimilate the local population into Chinese society. Xinjiang province is frightening glimpse of the future of surveillance and social control–and Western supply chains.