Xinjiang: Chairs Issue Statement about Forced Labor in Apple’s Supply Chain

June 8, 2021

(Washington)—Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA), the Chair and Cochair, respectively, of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China, in a statement today urged Apple CEO Tim Cook to transparently engage with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure that Apple’s supply chains are free of forced labor and to divest from Chinese suppliers who take part in the Chinese government’s “labor transfer” programs, particularly from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Apple has stated that they found no evidence of forced labor anywhere they operate. 

“The mounting evidence is beyond troubling. Despite persistent assurances from Apple that their supply chains were free of forced labor, we now have evidence that it is tainted,” said the Chairs. “We urge Apple CEO Tim Cook to divest from Chinese suppliers in Xinjiang who are implicated in forced labor in China. We also ask Apple to engage with U.S. Customs and Border Protection on their China supply chains to ensure that no Apple import is made with forced labor. There must be a concerted, tough, and global response to the atrocities being committed in Xinjiang. We again press our House and Senate colleagues to swiftly pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which would impose real costs on any Chinese entity using the slave labor of Uyghur and other Muslim ethnic minorities.”    

The statement comes in response to new investigative reports by the Tech Transparency ProjectThe Information, and the New York Times detailing Apple’s extensive connections with companies operating in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), including ties to companies participating in coercive “labor transfer” programs involving ethnic minority workers, programs involving widespread and systematic forced labor that was a key element of the U.S. State Department’s determination that atrocity crimes are being committed in the XUAR.

The Chairs—along with CECC Commissioners Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ)—are the sponsors of the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R.1155 / S.65). These bills restrict imports from the XUAR until both Chinese and U.S. companies can demonstrate to U.S. Customs and Border Protection that there is no forced labor in their supply chains.

For additional information on human rights conditions in the XUAR, see the CECC’s 2020 Annual Report chapters on “Xinjiang” and “Business and Human Rights,” as well as a staff report entitled “Global Supply Chains, Forced Labor, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.