Datenbankeintrag: IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains
Internierung Zwangsarbeit

IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains

May 01, 2021
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The last ten years has seen the rapid expansion of the metallurgical-grade silicon manufacturing sector in the Uyghur Region, with one company – Xinjiang Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. – dominating all of the others. Hoshine (also known as Hesheng) and many of its competitors in the Uyghur Region engage in state-sponsored labour transfer programmes, affecting the entire solar module supply chain.

There is evidence that Hoshine has actively recruited and employed “transferred surplus labour” from rural villages around Turpan to its Shanshan facility. The company’s labour recruitment process promises “transformation of surplus rural labour into industrial workers and urban dwellers, making them become fresh combat troops for industrialization, urbanization, and agricultural modernization.” A Hoshine recruitment fair in 2017 included a visit to the County National Unity Education Hall nearby, where the recruits “unanimously agreed that Xinjiang has always been an inalienable part of the motherland, and that people of all ethnicities have staunchly resisted the incursions of foreigners for over one hundred years.” Political indoctrination is an integral aspect of the ideological transformation imposed on rural farmers who are subject to labour transfer.

Xinjiang Hoshine relies on government programmes that place rural labourers deemed to be “surplus” in factory work. In its 2019-2021 vocational skills implementation plan, the Turpan government explicitly names Hoshine as a “key enterprise” in the “vocational skills training platform.”74 One effort early in Hoshine’s development in the Uyghur Region suggests the potential scale of that collaboration. In 2017, the Turpan Bureau of Human Resources assured the media that the agency had adjusted its training of 9,800 surplus rural labourers to provide them with skills required by Hoshine and would be able to “fully meet [Hoshine’s] employment needs” for 5,000 trained labourers.

State-sponsored recruitment efforts on Xinjiang Hoshine’s behalf depend on coercive strategies that suggest non-voluntary labour. For instance, one media report depicts a married couple from rural Dikan Township who were targeted for “poverty alleviation.” They were provided a government-determined “income-increasing package,” which began with the assignment of a cadre who instructed them in Chinese language skills “to pave the way for them to leave their hometown to work.” The regional work team then assigned the couple to vocational skills training to learn to be welders in the farming off-season. The couple followed the directives of the cadre, while the regional work team still provided “encouragement and help” for them to do “pre-employment training for the surplus rural labour force,” after which they were transferred to work at Xinjiang Hoshine. Though the couple owned seven acres of grape fields that would need tending, the government “relieved the two of their worries,” by transferring their land use rights (流转) to the state. The couple was transferred to Xinjiang Hoshine, more than 50 kilometers away from home, to work as a mechanic and a product inspector in the Shanshan County Hoshine Silicon Industry factory, leaving behind their children and ill parents. Though the report indicates that the couple have a bright and spacious house in their village, the photos accompanying the story suggest that the couple now lives in a bunk house with other employees at Xinjiang Hoshine and only rarely return home.

Xinjiang Hoshine Silicon presents a useful case study for understanding how the deployment of compulsory labour transfers can potentially put an entire supply chain at risk. Hoshine has benefited from a wide variety of government-sponsored incentives programmes designed to require the industrial employment of all indigenous people of the region deemed employable by the government, and the company has actively engaged in the ideological re-education efforts associated with those programmes. The company has accepted the government’s assistance in seeking impoverished rural workers to work in its facilities, exploiting the rural poors’ vulnerability to such mandatory government programmes. The “transferred” labourers are put to work directly in the production of the silicon, manning the furnaces and inspecting the final products. Furthermore, Hoshine likely sources its quartz from companies likely engaged in labour transfers and perhaps employing detainees from internment camps.

The widespread adoption of state-sponsored labour programmes in the Uyghur Region means that it is nearly impossible to avoid forced-labour-tainted raw materials if they are being sourced in the XUAR under the current regime.