Base Problem: Forced Labor Risks in China's Aluminum Sector

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Introduction The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is conducting a genocide against the Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang Autonomous Uyghur Region (XUAR).1 That genocide builds on a pervasive program of forced and abusive labor in which poor, generally Uyghur and other ethnic minority, workers are taken from their homes; re-educated in Mandarin, CCP ideology, and vocational and military skills; and assigned to work.2 The mobility of laborers is often restricted. Movements and communication are monitored. An extensive data collection infrastructure overseen by state-backed actors undergirds this process, exacerbating its coercive effect on those pulled from their families and forced into roles supporting CCP industrial policy in Xinjiang and beyond. In some cases, forced labor is also a part of larger detention programs. This is increasingly recognized, and increasingly a source of global outcry. What is less recognized is that in a globalized environment, genocide and forced labor in one country taint supply chains globally. The XUAR is a major industrial engine for China. China is a major industrial engine for the world. As a result, global supply chains across key and foundational industries are exposed to forced labor in Xinjiang. Products throughout those supply chains – even if made by recognizable Western brands or finished in trusted US facilities – may be exposed to forced labor in Xinjiang. This reality has been documented in the textiles, agriculture, and even solar energy sectors.3 But the dirty secret is that those sectors are the tip of the iceberg. Over a decade ago, Chinese industrial policy defined Xinjiang as a hub for strategic, heavy industries – the type of foundational production that undergirds most major global supply chains. The XUAR boasts abundant energy reserves that support low energy prices. Xinjiang’s coal reserves account for 40 percent of China’s total, its oil and gas about 20 percent. Far off in Northwestern China, the XUAR also offers an 1

“As Tensions with China Grow, Biden Administration Formalizes Genocide Declaration against Beijing,” Washington Post, March 30, 2021,; “Dutch Parliament Becomes Second in a Week to Accuse China of Genocide in Xinjiang,” Reuters, February 26, 2021.; “Canada’s Parliament Declares China’s Treatment of Uighurs ‘Genocide,’” BBC, February 23, 2021.; “UK Parliament Declares Genocide in China’s Xinjiang,” Reuters, April 22, 2021. 2 Allegations also indicate that the genocide includes forced sterilization, mass detention, and torture. (See, for example, Gulbahar Haitiwaji, “’Our Souls Are Dead:’ How I Survived a Chinese ‘Re-Education’ Camp for Uighurs,” The Guardian, January 12, 2021.) 3 See, for example: Laura Murphy and Nyrola Elima, “In Broad Daylight: Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains,” Sheffield Hallam University Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice, May 2021,; Laura Murphy, et al., “Laundering Cotton: How Xinjiang Cotton is Obscured in International Supply Chains,” Sheffield Hallam University Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice, November 2021,


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