Apple imported staff uniforms from a company subject to U.S. sanctions over forced labor, according to a report from The Guardian.
The company in question, Changji Esquel Textile, is a subsidiary firm of Hong Kong garment group Esquel. Shipping records reveal Changji Esquel Textile is based in China’s western Xinjiang region.
In July, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Esquel and 10 other Chinese companies for alleged human rights abuses, including forced labor. U.S. commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said the sanctions were intended to prevent U.S. companies being implicated in “the Chinese Communist party’s despicable offensive against defenseless Muslim minority populations.”
Esquel has denied allegations of abuse, stating “We absolutely have not, do not, and will never use forced labor anywhere in our company,” as it attempted to appeal about the sanctions. A 2019 international audit found there was no modern-day slavery at the company.
“We wouldn’t tolerate it. We would terminate a supplier relationship if it was found,” Cook said, adding he would be enthusiastic to contribute to legislation on banning forced labor.
Until recently, the Esquel website listed Apple as a “major customer.” One month before the sanctions were announced