China Is Using Uighur Labor to Produce Face MasksJuly 19, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive demand for personal protective equipment, Chinese companies are rushing to manufacture the gear for domestic and global consumption. A New York Times visual investigation has found that some of those companies are using Uighur labor through a contentious government-sponsored program that experts say often puts people to work against their will.
Uighurs are a largely Muslim ethnic minority primarily from the Xinjiang region of northwest China. The program sends Uighurs and other ethnic minorities into factory and service jobs. Now, their labor is part of the P.P.E. supply chain. According to China’s National Medical Products Administration, only four companies in Xinjiang produced medical grade protective equipment before the pandemic. As of June 30, that number was 51. After reviewing state media reports and public records, The Times found that at least 17 of those companies participate in the labor transfer program.