Tens of thousands of Uyghur Muslims, who face persecution in neighbouring China, have been transferred out of the country’s western Xinjiang province and delivered as workers to major factories as part of a government scheme, a report by The Independent has claimed while citing the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

As per the details, the Australian think tank has identified 83 global brands, including Apple, Nike, Samsung and Sony among others whose supply chains in China are employing Uyghur Muslims in conditions that could amount to forced labour.

China has been accused of detaining more than a million Uyghurs in Xinjiang as part of what it calls a campaign to tackle Islamic extremism. It initially denied this, before recently saying that all those in the “vocational centres” had “graduated” and been given jobs.


The ASPI report, based on analysis of government documents and local media reports, said the Uyghurs continued to live “a harsh and segregated life” once they entered the workforce of major factories.

More than 80,000 Uyghurs had been transferred far from their homes to work in at least 27 factories across nine provinces, it said.

There, the workers continued to be subject to surveillance, banned from practising their religion, forced to take part in mandarin language classes and restricted in their travel back to Xinjiang.

“Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen,” the think-tank said in the introduction to its report.

While ASPI describes itself as an independent think-tank whose core aim is to provide insight for the Australian government on matters of defence, security and strategic policy, the Chinese government has denied violating the rights of its workers, describing the report as “following along with the United States’ (US) anti-China forces that try to smear China’s anti-terrorism measures in Xinjiang”.