Signs of forced labor found in the battery supply chain for electric vehicles in China: Report

Hundreds of Uighurs are working for the mining conglomerate, which produces raw materials for electric vehicles as part of a so-called job transfer program in China, the New York Times reported.

Shen Longquan | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Chinese companies that produce raw materials for electric vehicle batteries are showing signs of using forced labor, according to a report by New York Times.

The newspaper reported that the mining conglomerate Xinjiang Industry for non-ferrous metals is hiring hundreds of Uighurs, an ethnic minority in China, as part of a so-called job transfer program.

The Times reported that China has acknowledged that it is implementing a program that moves Uighurs and other ethnic minorities from southern Xinjiang to the north to work in industry.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The US State Department has previously noted, citing an independent researcher, that relocated workers are at risk of being subjected to forced labor. It also has previously cited Chinese academic publications that “describes labor transfers as a crucial means of fragmenting Uighur society and mitigating the ‘negative’ impact of religion.”

In social media reports translated by the Times, Xinjiang Nonferrous said lectures on predominantly Muslim minorities had been lectured on “eradicating religious extremism” and turning them into workers who “embrace their Chinese nationality”.

Chinese authorities have repeatedly denied that the country is imprisoning or enslaving Uighurs. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday the allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang are “a huge lie invented by anti-Chinese forces to blacken China.” He said the rights of workers from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang were properly protected.

Xinjiang’s non-ferrous metals industry produces minerals and metals, including lithium, nickel and copper. It has exported metals to the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and India, the Times reported. However, it is unclear whether these ties continue, writes the New York Times.

The report was published on the eve of Uighur Law on the Prevention of Forced Labor enters into force in the United States. The law prohibits the entry into the US market of goods produced by forced labor in Xinjiang.

The Times reported that thousands of companies may have some connection to Xinjiang in their supply chains. If fully imposed, many products, including some needed for electric vehicles, could be stopped at the border.

Read the full report in the New York Times.

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