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Major Car Manufacturers Face Uighur Forced Labor Risk in China, Warns Human Rights Watch Report

A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) reveals that major car manufacturers, such as General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen, Tesla, and BYD, face a significant risk of utilizing aluminum produced through forced labor in China’s Xinjiang province.

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Human Rights Watch

China, being the world’s largest car manufacturer and aluminum producer, plays a crucial role in supplying materials for automotive components like tires, windshield wipers, and electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The report states that up to one-fifth of China’s aluminum is produced in Xinjiang, where over a million ethnic minority Muslims have reportedly experienced internment and various abuses, including forced labor and sterilization.

HRW points out that carmakers are inadequately monitoring their supply chains in China, with some yielding to Chinese government pressure to apply weaker sourcing standards in their Chinese joint ventures compared to their global operations.

The rights group emphasizes that most companies have not done enough to trace their supply chains for aluminum parts and identify potential links to Xinjiang. This lack of transparency raises concerns about the presence of forced labor in the production process.

Despite accusations of human rights violations against Uighurs and other ethnic minority Muslims in Xinjiang, China denies such claims, attributing its actions to vocational training centers aimed at reducing radicalization and terrorism.

HRW urges car manufacturers to enhance efforts in mapping their supply chains and apply pressure on their Chinese joint partners to do the same. The report highlights that China’s complex market dynamics and potential government reprisals make tracing supply chains challenging for companies.

While Tesla, without a joint venture, claims to have mapped its supply chain in some instances, other carmakers, including General Motors, Toyota, and BYD, did not respond to inquiries, according to HRW. The report underscores the need for greater transparency and diligence in ensuring that the automotive industry avoids links to human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

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