MORRISVILLE – Lenovo, the world’s top PC producer and a builder of devices ranging from smart phones to supercomputers, along with tech giant Apple are among several high tech firms facing questions about the use of forced labor in its supply chain.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Lenovo, Apple, Dell and HP were among companies cited as customers for the Chinese firm OFILM. The extensive story focuses on the city of Nanchang and Muslim ethnic Uighurs.
“The connection between O-FILM, the supplier that owns the Nanchang factory, and the tech giants is the latest sign that companies outside China are benefiting from coercive labor practices imposed on the Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, and other minorities,” The Associated Press said.
Other O-FILM customers include LG, Samsung and Huawei.
In response from an inquiry from WRAL TechWire about the report and a similar one from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Lenovo said through a spokesperson that it is taking action.
“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. 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,” said Lenovo’s Charlotte West.
“In line with our supplier code of conduct, all suppliers are audited every two years by an independent, third-party RBA approved auditor. O-Film was last audited in 2018 by the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), scoring very highly. 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.”
She did not reference the AP report.
“Lenovo confirmed that it sources screens, cameras, and fingerprint scanners from O-FILM but said it was not aware of the allegations and would investigate,” the AP said.
“Lenovo also pointed to a 2018 audit by the Reliable Business Alliance in which OFILM scored very well.”
Lenovo operates headquarters in Morrisville and Beijing. While the company employs thousands worldwide, most of its operations are based in China.
The Associated Press noted that “Apple’s most recent list of suppliers, published January last year, includes three OFILM factories in Nanchang.”
Apple told The AP that its “code of conduct requires suppliers to ‘provide channels that encourage employees to voice concerns.'”
Apple added that “it interviews the employees of suppliers during annual assessments in their local language without their managers present, and had done 44,000 interviews in 2018.”
The AP noted that companies which responded to inquiries “said they required suppliers to follow strict labor standards.”
“LG and Dell said they had ‘no evidence’ of forced labor in their supply chains but would investigate, as did Huawei,” the reported added. The wire service said HP “did not respond.”