Apple CEO Tim Cook is in the crosshairs of at least one U.S. lawmaker over a recent report claiming Chinese firms in the company’s supply chain exploit Uyghur labor.

An explosive report from The Information on Monday exposed potential ties between Apple suppliers and forced labor programs suspected of being part of an alleged Chinese genocide against Uyghurs.

An investigation conducted by human rights groups appears to reveal evidence against seven Chinese firms — Advanced-Connectek, Luxshare Precision Industry, Shenzhen Deren Electronic Co., Avary Holding, AcBel Polytech, CN Innovations, and Suzhou Dongshan Precision Manufacturing Co. — each of which provides parts and services to Apple.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., in a letter to Cook on Tuesday expressed “deep concern” over the report. Buck invoked Cook’s statements from a House Judiciary Committee hearing in July 2020, when the executive called forced labor “abhorrent” and something Apple “would not tolerate.” At the time, Apple supplier O-Film was under scrutiny for alleged human right violations related to forced labor.

The congressman went on to credit Apple for culling O-Film from its supply chain, but admonished Cook for the recently surfaced allegations.

Buck in the letter asks Cook to clarify its relationship with each company listed in Monday’s report and provide documentation relating to internal investigations into forced labor or human rights abuses prior to or during Apple’s business dealings with said firms. Also requested is a “thorough description” of the process Apple undertakes to ensure suppliers are not committing human rights abuses. Buck also wants to know how Apple intends to keep such exploitation out of its supply chain.

Cook is asked to pen a reply by June 15.

Apple’s reliance on China-based manufacturing has been a topic of hot debate for well over a decade. The subject came to the fore when a spate of worker suicides at factories owned by Foxconn stoked rumors of iPhone sweatshops.

Apple has repeatedly pledged to end human rights abuses, including child labor, poor working and living conditions, forced overtime, and more, at facilities run by Chinese business. To that end, the company holds suppliers to a code of conduct, funds regular audits of its partners and releases an annual supplier responsibility report. It also offers a range of education and enrichment programs to supplier employees.

Prior to The Information’s report, Apple was in December accused of allowing human rights abuses at facilities run by key partners including Foxconn, Pegatron, and Quanta in December.



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