Major Automakers Linked to Forced Labor in Chinese Aluminum Supply Chain, Human Rights Watch Report Claims

Major Automakers Linked to Forced Labor in Chinese Aluminum Supply Chain, Human Rights Watch Report Claims.

A rights organization has accused major car manufacturers, including Tesla, General Motors, Volkswagen, and Toyota, of potentially using aluminum sourced from Chinese producers employing Uyghur forced labor, according to a Human Rights Watch report published in Taipei, Taiwan. The report claims these automakers are not adequately verifying their supply chains in China to avoid forced labor, linking them to the use of aluminum made with the coerced labor of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region and elsewhere in China. This association is part of China’s controversial labor transfer programs aimed at assimilation and mass detention, which a United Nations report in 2022 suggested could constitute crimes against humanity, with over 1 million Uyghurs believed to be detained under the guise of combating terrorism and separatism.

Major Automakers Linked to Forced Labor in Chinese Aluminum Supply Chain, Human Rights Watch Report Claims.

China has dismissed these allegations as completely baseless, branding them as fabrications by forces opposed to China to tarnish its image. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has criticized the demand for companies to certify their products are not produced using forced labor in Xinjiang as a form of economic coercion intended to hinder China’s development and destabilize Xinjiang’s prosperity.


The implicated report reveals the challenges in tracing the origins of aluminum from Xinjiang, especially when it is transported to other regions in China for further processing. This aluminum, constituting over 15% of China’s and about 9% of the global supply, is crucial for various car components, from frames to battery foils, with China emerging as a leading player in the global automotive and electric vehicle markets.


Human Rights Watch has called on governments worldwide to ensure that companies engaged in car manufacturing or part sourcing in China do not contribute to or benefit from the repression in Xinjiang. The report criticizes foreign automakers for yielding to Chinese government pressures, thus compromising the oversight of their operations in China and increasing the likelihood of forced labor in their supply chains. It notes that foreign car manufacturers often enter joint ventures with Chinese companies due to China’s regulatory environment.


In response, Toyota has committed to examining the report closely, reaffirming its dedication to human rights. Volkswagen asserts its commitment to due diligence in material sourcing and its proactive approach to investigating forced labor allegations. General Motors has outlined its commitment to responsible sourcing and continuous evaluation of its supply chain for potential violations. Meanwhile, Tesla and BYD have yet to respond to inquiries regarding these allegations.


Additionally, the Xinjiang government has introduced more stringent regulations on religious practices, further restricting the religious expression of the Muslim Uyghur community as part of a broader campaign to align local customs and religious practices with the state’s objectives.


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About the Author: Bernard Aybout

In the land of bytes and bits, a father of three sits, With a heart for tech and coding kits, in IT he never quits. At Magna's door, he took his stance, in Canada's wide expanse, At Karmax Heavy Stamping - Cosma's dance, he gave his career a chance. With a passion deep for teaching code, to the young minds he showed, The path where digital seeds are sowed, in critical thinking mode. But alas, not all was bright and fair, at Magna's lair, oh despair, Harassment, intimidation, a chilling air, made the workplace hard to bear. Management's maze and morale's dip, made our hero's spirit flip, In a demoralizing grip, his well-being began to slip. So he bid adieu to Magna's scene, from the division not so serene, Yet in tech, his interest keen, continues to inspire and convene.