The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), in their new report Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labor and surveillance beyond Xinjiang, examine the Chinese government’s outsourcing of forced Uyghur labor from their vast network of ‘re-education camps’.
Since 2017, more than a million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities have disappeared into a vast network of ‘re-education camps’ in the Xinjiang region of China, in a government-led program of cultural genocide. Inside the camps, detained Uyghurs are subjected to political indoctrination, forced to renounce their religion and culture, and subjected to torture. Under the guise of combating ‘religious extremism’, the Chinese government has been actively removing all traces of the Uyghur culture.
Recently, the ‘re-education’ campaign appears to be entering a new phase in which government officials clam that all ‘trainees’ have ‘graduated’, with mounting evidence that many Uyghurs are now being forced to work in factories throughout the country. The ASPI report reveals that Chinese factories outside Xinjiang are also sourcing Uyghur workers under an exploitative government-led labor transfer scheme, with some factories using workers sent directly from ‘re-education camps’.
The ASPI has identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that are using Uyghur labor transferred from Xinjiang since 2017, and those factories claiming to be part of the supply chain of 82 well-known global brands. Between 2017 and 2019, the ASPI estimates that at least 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang and forced into factory labor transfer programs under a government policy known as ‘Xinjiang Aid’.
It is nearly impossible for Uyghurs to refuse or escape their forced labor assignments, which are deeply rooted within the system of detention and political indoctrination woven throughout China. Along with unending surveillance, the threat of arbitrary detention hangs over Uyghurs who may refuse their government-sponsored forced labor assignments.
The ASPI further reveals sickening evidence explaining that local governments and private brokers are paid a price per head by the Xinjiang provincial government to organize the forced labor assignments. Forced job transfers are now an integral part of the ‘re-education process’, which the Chinese government calls ‘vocation training’.
This report examines three case studies in which Uyghur workers appear to be employed under forced labor conditions by Chinese factories that supply major global brands such as Apple, Nike, and Adidas, proving that the staple products of many modern brands are often made with tears.