By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has asked eight major automakers, including General Motors, Tesla, Ford Motor and Honda Motor, to answer questions about their Chinese supply chains, according to a letter released on Thursday.
In June, a US law went into effect banning the import of forced labor products from Xinjiang as a pushback against Beijing’s treatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority, which Washington has labeled genocide.
“It is imperative that automakers scrutinize their relationships with all suppliers connected to Xinjiang,” Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden wrote, asking chief executives of major automakers about Chinese supply chain issues.
Beijing denies abuses in Xinjiang, but says it has established “vocational training centers” to combat terrorism, separatism and religious extremism.
The letters, which were also sent to Toyota Motor, Volkswagen, Chrysler parent Stellar and Mercedes-Benz, said “unless due diligence ensures that the components are not linked to forced labor, automakers cannot and should not sell vehicles in the U.S. that contain the components.” containing. Mined or produced in Xinjiang.”
Wyden wants to know if the automakers have ever “eliminated or reduced the use of any suppliers because of their use of raw materials, mining, processing, or parts production associated with Xinjiang?”
He cited a new report released earlier this month by researchers at Britain’s Sheffield Hallam University on the auto industry’s use of steel, aluminum, copper, batteries, electronics and other components produced in Xinjiang.
“Between raw material mining/processing and auto parts manufacturing, we found that virtually every vehicle component would require heightened scrutiny to ensure it is free of Uyghur forced labor,” the report said.
GM said Thursday that it actively monitors its global supply chain and “conducts extensive due diligence, particularly where we identify or become aware of potential violations of the law, our contracts or our policies.” It added that its supplier contracts prohibit the use of “forced or involuntary labor, abusive treatment of employees or corrupt business practices in the supply of goods and services to GM.”
Other automakers either did not comment or did not immediately comment.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union this month called on automakers to move their entire supply chains out of China’s Xinjiang region, saying, “It’s time for the auto industry to establish a high-road supply chain model outside the Uyghur region that protects labor.” and Human Rights and the Environment.”
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Otis)