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Apple says “No Evidence” of forced labor from major Chinese suppliers

Apple has said it has found no evidence of suspected forced labor from any of its major Chinese suppliers after the US government blacklisted O-Film as part of its ongoing crackdown on Chinese technology companies.

Tim Cook during a visit to a Chinese o-film facility in 2017

The camera and touch module provider, O-Film Group, was one of eleven Chinese companies added to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s entity list on Monday for alleged human rights violations involving the Uyghur Muslim minority in China . Activists have also launched a campaign accusing companies of “empowering and benefiting” from the exploitation of the minority.

Reports from the U.S. Congress and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) have found, among other things, that thousands of Uighers have been transferred to factories across China under conditions that are highly labor-intensive. The ASPI has equipped the factories with over 80 brands, including Apple, Nike and Gap.

Apple said, however BBC News on Thursday that it had investigated the allegations against O-Film and found nothing unpleasant.

“We have found no evidence of forced labor on Apple production lines and we plan to continue monitoring,” the company said.

O-Film has been part of the Apple supply chain since 2017, first for iPads and later for iPhones. O-Film is currently supplying front-end camera modules and dual camera modules for Apple’s upcoming “iPhone 12” series.

The manufacturer has successfully applied for Apple’s business by showing that it can meet the company’s high quality standards and fighting against competing camera module suppliers like Sharp of Japan from Foxconn and LG Innotek.

In December 2017, Apple CEO “Tim Cook” visited one of O-film’s factories and praised the technical know-how and work culture, according to a press release on the O-film official website.

Nikkei Asian Review notes that Apple’s 2019 supplier list shows that three of the four O-Film facilities that Apple supplies are located in Nanchang, where the blacklisted subsidiary is located, although it is not clear whether the subsidiary operates one of the facilities that supply Apple directly.

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