MORRISVILLE – A report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says that two suppliers of products to Lenovo are using workers in China “under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor.” It’s the second such report to link Lenovo’s supply chain providers to the forced labor accusations.
Lenovo, the world’s largest seller of PCs and supercomputers among numerous other products, has vowed swift action against one of the providers, O-FILM, which also was listed as a user of forced labor in an investigation by The Associated Press.
“In line with our supplier code of conduct, all suppliers are audited every two years by an independent, third-party RBA [Responsible Business Alliance] approved auditor. O-Film was last audited in 2018 by the Responsible Business Alliance, scoring very highly.,” said Lenovo spokesperson Charlotte West.
“It was due to be audited again in May 2020, however this has been brought forward together with a specific investigation of the ASPI report findings.”
Both reports came out within days of each other.
The second firm cited in the ASPI report is Highboard Advanced Material. Lenovo has been asked about that supplier as well.
A graphic in the report lists Lenovo as a Highboard customer.
Lenovo is far from alone with more than 80 international firms – including Apple, HP and Dell – as being customers of firms cited in the report.
“The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority1 citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. 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 ASPI says.
“This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps.
“The estimated figure is conservative and the actual figure is likely to be far higher. In factories far away from home, they typically live in segregated dormitories, undergo organised Mandarin and ideological training outside working hours,4 are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from participating in religious observances. Numerous sources, including government documents, show that transferred workers are assigned minders and have limited freedom of movement.”
‘High standards’ for suppliers
Asked about the reports, Lenovo “holds all of its suppliers and vendors to high standards of ethics, quality and safety for any goods and services provided to our company,” West said.
“Lenovo Likewise, we require compliance with all relevant laws, rules, and regulations for the respective countries where they do business, whether on our behalf or as standard business operations. Any allegations of impropriety or violations of these policies are taken seriously and investigated with immediate action taken wherever necessary.”
Lenovo operates two headquarters, one in Morrisville and the other in Beijing.