Firms with operations in Xinjiang complicit in human rights violations

Human Rights Watch director Sophie Richards has called on firms with Chinese operations being undertaken in Xinjiang to consider ongoing human rights violations in the region. Over a million Turkic Muslims are estimated to be detained indefinitely in the province, many being forced into modern slavery.

Companies with operations in the region are at high risk of modern slavery. The textiles industry is particularly high risk, with many Australian brands manufacturing in Xinjiang. For more on this see our previous story on textile manufacturing in Xinjiang.

In 2017, Human Rights watch called out Massachusetts-based firm Thermo Fisher Scientific for directly contributing to repressive government policies. The firm sold DNA sequencers to the Xinjian Public Security Bureau, adding to the ever-increasing surveillance in the region. Authorities have been documented collecting compulsory DNA samples from all residents aged between 12 and 65.  

Due diligence is extremely difficult if operating in the Xinjiang region, as authorities have placed restrictions on independent inquiries. United Nations experts, journalists and government officials are also facing great difficulties in accessing the region.   

With such high risk of modern slavery, companies should begin to question whether manufacturing in Xinjian is worth the potential repetitional risk and harm to victims.

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Sonja DuncanComment