China’s electric vehicle battery supply chain shows signs of forced labor, report says

The New York Times reported that hundreds of Uighurs are working for a mining conglomerate that produces raw materials for electric vehicles as part of a so-called work transfer program in China.

Shen Longquan | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Chinese companies that produce raw materials for electric vehicle batteries show signs of using forced labor, according to a report new York Times.

The newspaper reported that the mining group Xinjiang Non-Ferrous Metals Industry employs hundreds of Uighurs, an ethnic minority in China, as part of a so-called work transfer program.

The Times reported that China has admitted to running a program that moves Uighurs and other ethnic minorities from south to north of Xinjiang to work in industrial jobs.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The US State Department previously cited an independent researcher as saying that relocated workers are at risk of subject to forced labor, there is also Previously Cited Chinese Academic Publications that “described labor transfer as an important means to fragment Uighur society and to reduce the ‘negative’ influence of religion.”

In a social media post translated by the Times, Xinjiang Nonferous said activists from the mostly Muslim minority were lectured on becoming activists to “end religious extremism” and “embracing their Chinese nationalism”.

Chinese officials have repeatedly denied that the country imprisons or enslaves Uighurs. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday The claims of forced labor in Xinjiang are “a big lie created by anti-China forces to defame China.” He said that the rights of workers of all ethnic groups are duly protected in Xinjiang.

The Xinjiang non-ferrous metals industry produces minerals and metals including lithium, nickel and copper. The Times reported that it has exported metals to the United States, Germany, the UK, Japan and India. It is unclear whether these relationships are ongoing, however, The New York Times reported.

The report was published on the eve of Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act Effective in the United States. The law prohibits the entry of goods made of bonded labor into the US market in Xinjiang.

The Times reported that thousands of companies may have some links to Xinjiang in their supply chains. If implemented fully, the range could prevent a number of products, including some needed for electric vehicles.

read full report in The New York Times.