With China’s western-most province of Xinjiang being turned into a mass internment camp, last night’s ABC Four Corners program reported on the Chinese Communist Party’s alleged plans to put up to a million detained Uyghurs to work.
The exposé highlights how global supply chains make it possible for the clothes you’re wearing, and many other things you own, to have been made using slavery.
The program featured the cases of several women who say they have been forced to work in textile factories. According to China scholar Adrian Zenz, government documents reveal plans for “re-education” through labour. Satellite photos show what look like large warehouses close to detention camps.
Target, Cotton On, Jeanswest, Dangerfield, IKEA and H&M are among the brands in Australia sourcing cotton from Xinjiang, according to Four Corners. In response to questions from the ABC, Target and Cotton On declared they would investigate their relationships with suppliers.Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock
Modern slavery: a snapshot
For many of us it is hard to believe modern slavery is now more prevalent than at any time in history.
But the ubiquity and lack of accountability in global supply chains mean an estimated 25 million people around the world are in forced labour. A further 15 million are in forced marriage.
About two-thirds of the total number of people in modern slavery are in the Asia-Pacific region, where most Australian companies source their materials and products.
The problem is so widespread it’s unlikely any companies’ operations or supply chains are completely free of modern slavery.
Yet many businesses are unaware of what modern slavery is and what it might look like in their operations and supply chains. And some companies – and their customers – may be complicit in creating a “race to bottom” by demanding cheaper goods and services without checks on social (and environmental) credentials.
Authors: The Conversation