The links of the commercial and economic framework with forced labor in the so-called “ re-education camps” of the Chinese Communist Party goes beyond what was expected.
After beginning preparations for the implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act enacted on June 21, 2021, in the United States, a report appears detailing the almost 1 million companies that would be violating this new law.
The act stipulates that all goods manufactured in Xinjiang are the product of forced labor, unless the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner certifies that the goods have not been manufactured in this manner.
Altana’s Illuminating the Forced Labor Ecosystem in Xinjiang report shows “785,415 top-tier trade relationships between forced labor-related entities and other economies around the world. At the next level, this figure increased to 6,871,643 trade relationships.”
Related companies include textile, agricultural, automotive, gas, and pharmaceutical. All of them help the flow of Uyghur products into the global trade circuit.
- Out of every 5 cotton garments on the world market, one would be linked to Uyghur production.
- Nearly half of the polysilicon used to make solar panels is produced in Xinjiang by Uyghurs.
Among the companies most recognized as being linked directly or indirectly to this slave labor include Nike, Coca Cola, Apple, BMW, Adidas, Bosch, Mercedes Benz, Amazon, Lacoste, Zara, Microsoft, Xiaomi, Huawei, Toshiba, Land Rover, Lenovo, and Asus.
Trade in products derived from Uyghur forced labor reached 183 countries, including the United States, Canada, India, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and France.
Several countries are implementing laws similar to the one enacted in the U.S. to end slave labor, such as Australia and France.
According to 2016 estimates, 40.3 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labor.
The United States and several countries denounced the Chinese Communist Party for committing crimes against humanity and genocide, in addition to using internment camps, forced labor, mass sterilizations, and torture against Uyghurs and other ethnicities.
In Uyghur hell
Turzunay Ziyawudun was arrested by police near her village in Xinjiang and taken to a re-education camp.
There they forced her to sing communist songs and deny her religion. She developed health problems and was admitted to a hospital where she recovered.
A year after her arrest, the police summoned her to complete her re-education and she was put in prison again.
They cut her hair and rip off her earrings.
Ziyawudun confessed, “I was gang raped and my private parts were tortured with electricity. You have marks on your body that make you not want to look at yourself.”
She went on to say, “They gave me sterilizing pills, I’m pretty sure that’s why I can’t have a baby now.”
With the mere threat of being sent to the dark room, fear paralyzes the prisoners.
Ziyawudun added, “Anything you can think of, including rape, takes place in that room.”
There are thousands of testimonies of people who have survived the brutality that is experienced in these re-education camps, and not only the Uyghurs are victims of this barbarism.
Ming Yu, a businessman who was put in prison just for practicing the spiritual discipline Falun Gong, said he managed to film an undercover video inside a forced labor camp in 2008 during the Beijing Olympics.
Some are seen lying exhausted under the tables where they work.
Yu used hidden cameras.
In another video you can see a man chained to a bed and with visible injuries. According to Yu he was a practitioner who was seriously injured by the camp guards.
Ming Yu is Wang’s friend, whose story inspired the making of the film “Finding Courage.”
The sisters Yifei and Kefei Wang were seized by the police and put into a labor camp for speaking out against the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. Yifei managed to get out, but her sister stayed for 4 months and died in the camp.
After seeing her condition, her family alleges that she was tortured to death. They are still fighting to recover her remains.
The re-education camps in China have their roots in the so-called Laogai system, created shortly after Mao came to power in 1949.
Inspired by the “gulag” of the Soviet Union, they are based on the communist ideals of reforming through forced labor people who they consider antisocial, or who do not follow the guidelines of the party. The goal is to turn them into “new socialist men.”
Common criminals, political dissidents, practitioners of forbidden religions, and members of ethnic minorities considered to be in rebellion were incarcerated in these prisons. Prisoners were denied a trial and held indefinitely without specific charges.
It constituted a tool of repression and control to maintain the power of the CCP.
After receiving pressure from the international community, the CCP ended the laogai, but only to change its name and rename it prisons for non-criminal offenders, community correctional centers, or re-education camps.
According to the Laogai Research Foundation there are more than 1,000 detention centers, in which millions of people are imprisoned.
The inmates offer an abundance of free labor that has been used to manufacture of all kinds of products. A huge source of profit for those who take advantage of this system.
With little international control, and the many intermediaries in the supply chain, make it very difficult to detect what merchandise comes from these detention centers.
And thanks to the economic benefits that this slave labor produces, many governments prefer to look the other way and not recognize the human tragedy behind this business.