Senator Wyden asks Tesla, GM, Ford about China’s supply chains | Daily News Byte


Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked major automakers, including Tesla, General Motors and Fordto provide details about their Chinese supply chains after a study found links between several car companies and Chinese entities in a region where US officials say forced labor exists.

Wyden sent letters to eight automakers, asking how they could map their supply chains to determine if any parts were linked to the region where the Uyghur minority group was allegedly abused. Wyden referred to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last year and took effect in June. The bill states that imports from China’s Xinjiang region should not be allowed into the country unless the importer can convincingly demonstrate that the products were not produced using forced labor.

Wyden told the companies that the information he requested “will assist the Senate Finance Committee’s investigation into the effectiveness of the United States’ trade-based efforts to combat forced labor and other serious human rights abuses in China .”

In a fact sheet published last year, the US State Department wrote that the Chinese government used surveillance technologies and criminal prosecutions to help it “abduct and imprison” more than a million Muslims, including Uyghurs and other ethnic groups. The agency said there are up to 1,200 “state-run internment camps” in Xinjiang where forced labor is used.

A representative from the Chinese Embassy in the US did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but China has previously denied using forced labor, despite findings to the contrary by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary slavery.

In the letters, Wyden cited a report this month from the Helena Kennedy Center for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University that found links between Chinese companies operating in the Xinjiang region and automakers using their product.

The senator asked Tesla, GM, Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Stelantis, Toyota and Volkswagen how they monitor the manufacturing supply chains of parts in other countries like Mexico or Canada to determine if there are any links back to Xinjiang.

Wyden also asked the automakers if they have plans to exit the Xinjiang region and if they have cut or threatened to cut a relationship with a supplier or sub-supplier because of its links to the region. He requested more information about any shipments to automakers seized by border authorities.

GM said after the report that it monitors its global supply chain and conducts due diligence, “particularly where we identify or become aware of potential violations of the law, our agreements, or our policies.” The carmaker said it uses its supplier code of conduct, guided by the UN Global Compact, to “investigate issues, verify claims, establish facts and act quickly to determine the appropriate solution in each case , up to and including the termination of business relations.”

GM also said it has a “robust” supplier code of conduct and terms and conditions that “clearly state our prohibition against any use of child labor or any other form of forced or involuntary labor, abusive treatment of employees or corrupt business practices in supplying GM goods and services.”

A spokesperson for Stellantis said the company “takes these matters seriously,” and is reviewing Wyden’s letter and the study he referenced.

“Building a strong responsible supply chain is an important focus for us,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We monitor our suppliers’ compliance with our Code of Conduct and respect for human rights by requiring contractual commitments and ongoing reviews.”

A Honda spokesperson said in a statement that the company “expects our suppliers to follow our Global Sustainability Guidelines with respect to labor,” and that the company will “work with policymakers on important issues this.”

A spokesman for Toyota declined to comment, noting that the company had only received the letter. Other automakers named in this article did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“I recognize that vehicles contain many parts from around the world and are subject to complex supply chains,” Wyden wrote. “However, this recognition cannot cause the United States to compromise its core commitment to upholding human rights and US law.”

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