Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWhy is Trump undermining his administration’s historic China policies?Senate GOP signals they’ll help bail out Biden’s Fed chairDemocrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderatesMORE (D-N.J.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans would need a promotion to be ‘paper tigers’Defense & National Security Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusalsBlinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing ‘Havana syndrome’MORE (R-Fla.) and Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyEmanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing Manchin climate stance threatens to shatter infrastructure bargainDemocratic appropriations bills would increase environmental funding by BMORE (D-Ore.) are demanding a bipartisan investigation into reports of a U.S. firm’s use of Uyghur forced labor.
The senators on Wednesday wrote a letter calling for an investigation following a Reuters report earlier this month that Universal Electronics employed hundreds of ethnic Uyghur laborers through a deal with the Xinjiang authorities that “bears clear signs of forced labor.”
The letter listed several questions about the use of Uyghur laborers and called upon Universal Electronics’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Arling to explain the company’s reported labor practices to Congress.
American companies must scrupulously avoid forced Uyghur labor in their Chinese operations, including by carefully vetting arrangements with third-party labor agents,” the senators wrote in their letter. “Last weeks reports indicate Universal Electronics may be failing in this duty.”
According to Reuters, a Universal Electronics spokesperson confirmed that the company “does not conduct independent due diligence on where and how its workers are trained in Xinjiang.”
In other words, Universal Electronics is choosing to turn a blind eye. If true, this is a serious failure in your firms ethical and fiduciary responsibilities – and, potentially, your duties under U.S. law, the senators’ letter added in response to the statement.
The Reuters report said that the deal was to transport laborers to the company’s plant in Qinzhou, China. Authorities funded at least one charter flight that took the workers to the factory with a police escort.
The U.S.-based company Universal Electronic, which has sold its equipment to Sony, Samsung, LG and Microsoft, is the first confirmed American company that has a transfer program that some have deemed forced labor, according to Reuters.
Menendez, who serves as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, also lead an effort to classify the human rights abuses of the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities in China as genocide.
The Hill has reached out to Universal Electronics for comment.