CFU Welcomes Congressional Hearing on Corporate “Auditwashing” of Uyghur Forced Labor

CFU PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 30th, 6:00 PM ET

Sabrina Sohail: sabrina@campaignforuyghurs.org

(650) 703-4523

www.campaignforuyghurs.org

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) held a pivotal hearing entitled “Factories and Fraud in the PRC: How Human Rights Violations Make Reliable Audits Impossible.” The hearing aimed to shed light on false and fraudulent social and labor audits that aim to whitewash the most extensive and grueling system of state-imposed forced labor today, operated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in East Turkistan. Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) sees this hearing as a significant step towards holding businesses at risk for using Uyghur forced labor in their supply chains accountable, discouraging them from using superficial “audits” to falsely demonstrate compliance with basic human rights and labor standards.

The hearing’s witnesses included Thea Lee, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of LaborScott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights ConsortiumDr. Adrian Zenz, Senior Fellow and Director of China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; and Jim Wormington, Senior Researcher and Advocate on Corporate Accountability at Human Rights Watch.

Deputy Undersecretary Lee’s testimony highlighted a critical need for systemic change via a holistic approach amid growing scrutiny of global business practices that rely on labor rights violations and human rights atrocities. Deputy Undersecretary Lee stated, “To be effective, social auditing should be part of a comprehensive social compliance system that ensures that unions, democratic worker organizations, and other worker representatives provide support and a voice for workers to identify, raise concerns and collectively advocate for their rights and interests without fear of retaliation.”

Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium emphasized the need for transforming how corporations approach human rights due diligence by saying, “For corporations to claim that their auditing schemes provide a meaningful umbrella of protection, these schemes must be comprehensive, with regular inspections of thousands of facilities across a supply chain. The only way to conduct thousands of inspections annually at a cost considered affordable by corporations seeking to produce as cheaply as possible is to assess hundreds of compliance standards, even at the most massive facilities, in one to two days.”

Dr. Adrian Zenz of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation declared that Congress should engage in further oversight of companies operating in the Uyghur region, stating, “I recommend that the US government and/or Congress publish a detailed report in which the Chinese state impairs the implementation of meaningful audits and intimidates auditors, preventing due diligence.” Dr. Zenz emphasized the specifics of the December 2023 Volkswagen audit, conducted by Markus Löning, at its joint-venture factory in the Uyghur region. Dr. Zenz detailed that the audit relied on visual inspections and basic documentation review, which cannot detect systemic state coercion. He went on to state, “Congress should hold hearings involving Volkswagen to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Löning audit.”

Jim Wormington of Human Rights Watch, echoed the calls for further oversight of businesses operating in China and also said that corporations should step up their efforts to be more responsible, “Companies should instead (of performing audits) themselves map their supply chain and responsibly disengage from joint ventures, subsidiaries, or suppliers who continue to operate or source materials from the Uyghur region.” Mr. Wormington also expressed the importance of conducting hearings where executives from audit firms testify about the challenges of auditing in China and efforts to prevent complicity in human rights abuses. He also recommended hearings with key industries, such as the car industry, to address the risk of Uyghur forced labor in their supply chains.

CECC Chair Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who also co-leads the Congressional Uyghur Caucus, and Cochair Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) continue to demonstrate exemplary leadership in countering the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s egregious actions, including the use of forced Uyghur labor amidst broader genocide. CFU lauds these efforts to scrutinize not only the CCP but also the businesses profiteering from state-imposed forced labor and enabling human rights atrocities to take place against the Uyghur people.

Rushan Abbas, Founder and Executive Director of Campaign for Uyghurs, welcomes the hearing: “Despite China’s tyrannical regime, my homeland remains a hub for multinational business, drawing on the exploitation of the Uyghur people. It’s time to expose and address the business tactics used to cover up the lack of due diligence in supply chains. I am immensely grateful to Representative Christopher Smith, Senator Jeff Merkley, and the panelists for their persistent work on this issue.”

Recalling the ILO’s recent update of its Handbook on Forced Labor, which provides renewed guidelines on identifying state-imposed forced labor, CFU stresses the urgent need to address the role of forced labor and “auditwashing” in driving the Uyghur Genocide and calls on governments, NGOs and other entities to take decisive action to end the CCP’s atrocious imposition of forced labor on the Uyghur people and other Turkic communities in East Turkistan.

Today’s hearing can be watched at this link here.

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Campaign for Uyhgurs

We defend the human rights of uyghur people and the free world by exposing and confronting the chinese government's genocide, and empowering uyghur women and youth in the diaspora.

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