Amazon Still Working With Chinese Suppliers Accused of Uyghur Slave Trade

Amazon Still Working With Chinese Suppliers Accused of Uyghur Slave Trade

The e-commerce giant is allegedly still continuing to work with Chinese companies found to have used Uyghur slave labor.

Amazon, the world's leading e-commerce website is reportedly still engaged with companies in China that are known to be using Uyghur slave labor, a new report from the Tech Transparency Project has found. The report alleges that Amazon is using Chinese suppliers accused of Uyghur slave trade for their products under the "Amazon Basics" label.

On Monday, a new report was released by the Tech Transparency Project, a research group run by the nonprofit Campaign for Accountability, NBC News reported. The group has long been critical of Big Tech companies and has found through research Amazon's public list of suppliers, which includes up to five companies that journalists have linked to what think tank researchers call "labor transfer" programs in China.

These suppliers produce Amazon-branded products and devices that have the "Amazon Basics" label on them. Moreover, some of Amazon's third-party sellers may also be offering products that use Uyghur slave labor from the Chinese region of Xinjiang, where cotton imports are already sanctioned by the U.S., the report said.

"The findings raise questions about Amazon's exposure to China's repression of minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang - and the extent to which the e-commerce giant is adequately vetting its supplier relationships," the Tech Transparency Project said in the report.

Amazon responded in a statement, as per Breitbart, with the Big Tech company's spokesperson Erika Reynoso arguing, "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," Reynoso said. "Whenever we find or receive proof of forced labor, we take action."

The Chinese government's "labor transfer" programs involve forcing thousands of people from Xinjiang to work in factories. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank estimated that there were at least 80,000 Uyghurs or Xinjiang residents who were forced to work under such conditions between 2017 to 2019.

But Amazon is not the only Big Tech giant to be accused of taking advantage of the Uyghur slave trade. Apple has also been accused by journalists and researchers in recent years of working with Chinese companies that use Uyghur slave labor. In fact, the Tech Transparency Project, China Labor Watch and the tech news site The Information reported in May 2021 that Apple had worked with up to seven Chinese  suppliers that are allegedly involved in "labor transfer" programs. But Apple denied this, saying that the company "found no evidence of forced labor anywhere we operate."

Amazon has over 1,900 suppliers and claims to conduct thousands of supply chain evaluations annually, including on manufacturers it might work with in the future. Amazon in 2020 found that 8% of the companies it audited had labor issues about "Freely Chosen Employment," an increase from 3.2% in 2019. Amazon said the increase was due to pre-production audits and that the "failure to meet our standards has been a factor in our decision to terminate hundreds of suppliers."