Wind FarmSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple's dealings in China have come under more scrutiny.
  • New research from the Tech Transparency Project claims an Apple wind farm partner in China had links to forced Uyghur labor.
  • It held talks to receive a labor export from Xinjiang, but it is unclear if the transfer of workers was ever completed.

Another Apple link in China has come under scrutiny after it emerged that a wind farm partner of the company had links to forced Uyghur labor.

From the Tech Transparency Project:

Apple is investing in wind farms in China as it develops a carbon neutral supply chain. But the company's wind partner in China has links to the repression of minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

The report notes a previous report into seven Apple suppliers that had ties to suspected forced Uyghur labor in China, and says new research casts doubt on the conduct of Apple's wind farm partner in the country, Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd:

Apple has an extensive partnership with the company, known as Goldwind, which is based in Xinjiang and is one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world. Apple and Goldwind have four wind farm joint ventures—part of Apple's goal of achieving 100% carbon neutrality, including across its China-based manufacturing supply chain, by 2030.

TTP says its investigation found "local government media posts indicating that one Goldwind factory in Toksun County, Xinjiang, was in advanced talks in 2016 to receive "labor export" from Hotan Prefecture", an area of Xinjiang that has an Uyghur-majority population. These programs have been described as "labor export" in the past.

The report says that it could not be determined whether the discussed transfer of workers was completed, but says the discussions raise "troubling questions" about whether the company was involved in the exploitation of Uyghurs.

The research also found the company's founder and chairman "has personally participated in a Chinese government campaign that promotes ideological education of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and even arranges for Communist Party members to stay in the homes of local Xinjiang families."

Earlier today a report from The Information claimed some Apple suppliers were discriminating against ethnic minorities when hiring for workers, but at the same time were accepting 'labor exports' of minority workers so that they received benefits from the government. Apple has previously stated it has found no evidence of forced labor in its supply chain.

Apple has poured millions of dollars into China as part of its China Clean Energy Fund, which was launched in 2018. The company plans to invest $300 million by 2022, to establish a grid worth 1 gigawatt of renewable energy.