Apple’s role as a global tech company requires it to maintain a vast international supply chain; but Apple’s reliance on China’s manufacturing industry – specifically that which is suspected to be tainted with forced Uighur labour – casts a dark shadow over the company’s overseas operations.

Over the past ten years, the Chinese government has forcibly detained more than a million Uighur Muslims in prison-like internment camps; human rights groups like the Tech Transparency Project have noted that thousands of Uighurs are being shipped from these camps to work for companies like Lens Technology, one of Apple’s oldest and most well known suppliers.[1]

Investigations in May also unearthed video evidence of the company’s use of illegal laborers, with seven of Apple’s suppliers found to be linked to the forced labor of Uighur Muslims.[2]

How has Apple responded to these allegations?

Apple cut ties with Chinese component supplier, Ofilm Group Co. in March over allegations that it was involved in the Uighur labor program [3] – but many key ties remain with the company’s slave labor tainted Chinese manufacturers.

For example, Advanced-Connectek and Luxshare, two of Apple’s biggest Chinese suppliers, have also been accused of using Uighur labor on their supply lines; both are still working with Apple, with Luxshare actually deepening its ties to the company in a $930 million deal at the start of the year. [4]

Apple eventually published a full “supply chain report” at the start of June, having apparently conducted over 1000 supplier assessments in 53 countries. The report found “no evidence of involuntary labor on any Apple production lines,” a conclusion that flies in the face of independently obtained satellite imagery and video evidence.[5]

Apple also opposed the “Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act” back in November, a bill that would hold U.S companies accountable for using/benefiting from illegal Uighur labour; couple this with the fact that Apple has stopped providing specific addresses for its supplier facilities, and one gets the sense that the company is actively blocking all attempts at constructive action.[6]

Apple’s dubious re-examination of its suppliers fails to convince us that Uighur forced labour has been eliminated from its supply chain. It’s becoming clear that the company is not yet willing to make the hard adjustments needed to fully cleanse its supply chain from slave labor. Consequently, we will not be changing our overall comfort rating for Apple and it will remain “Uncomfortable” to invest in for Practical Islamic Finance.

And Allah knows best.

Sources:

[1] https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/29/lens-technology-apple-uighur/%3foutputType=amp

[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-china-suppliers-uyghur-muslims-forced-labor-report-2021-5

[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-17/shares-of-china-s-ofilm-drop-after-firm-loses-foreign-customer

[4] https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/China-tech/China-s-Luxshare-deepens-Apple-ties-in-930m-supply-chain-deal

[5] https://www.theinformation.com/articles/seven-apple-suppliers-accused-of-using-forced-labor-from-xinjiang

[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/11/20/apple-uighur/