Banned Chinese supplier with forced labour ties used to import cars to US by BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen: Senate report

Banned Chinese supplier with forced labour ties used to import cars to US by BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen: Senate report

A US congressional investigation released on Monday found that carmakers BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen had used components from a Chinese supplier banned in the United States over alleged forced labour ties.

The report by the Senate Finance Committee said BMW had produced and imported vehicles with parts “presumptively made with forced labour,” while Jaguar Land Rover imported parts with the same issues.

VW made vehicles for the US market with such components too, and has “ongoing business ties” to manufacturing in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, the report said.

Beijing has been accused of incarcerating over one million Uygurs and other Muslim minorities in a network of detention facilities in Xinjiang.

In the United States, the Uygur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) bans the import of all goods from Xinjiang unless companies offer verifiable proof that production did not involve forced labour.

“Automakers’ self-policing is clearly not doing the job,” said the Senate Finance Committee’s Democratic chairman Ron Wyden at the end of the two-year probe.

A facility believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, in Artux, north of Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region. Photo: AFP

In a statement, he called on US customs officials to boost enforcement and “crack down on companies that fuel the shameful use of forced labour in China.”

The latest report looks into components from Sichuan Jingweida Technology Group Co, a firm added to the UFLPA entity list in 2023 over participation in business practices said to target members of persecuted groups like Uygurs in China.

A supplier to the carmakers was found to have sourced components from Jingweida, meaning these parts were barred from vehicles bound for the US market.

Volkswagen disclosed earlier this year that a shipment of its vehicles for the United States included parts made by a blacklisted supplier.

But “committee staff discovered that BMW imported thousands of vehicles intended for the United States that included parts banned under UFLPA,” the committee said.

It said BMW disclosed after questioning from the committee that at least 8,000 Mini Cooper cars containing such components were shipped to the country.

German carmaker BMW imported at least 8,000 Mini Cooper vehicles into the United States with electronic components from a banned Chinese supplier, a US Senate report released on Monday said. Photo: Handout/SCMPOST

“BMW continued to import products manufactured by JWD until at least April 2024,” said the report, referring to Jingweida.

BMW Group said in an email it had “taken steps to halt the importation of affected products.”

The company will be conducting a service action to replace the specific parts, adding it “has strict standards and policies regarding employment practices, human rights, and working conditions, which all our direct suppliers must follow.”

Jaguar Land Rover initially said it was unaware of its links to the banned supplier, and BMW said Jingweida was not on its supplier list.

Congress in 2021 passed the Uygur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) law to strengthen enforcement of laws to prevent the import of goods from China’s Xinjiang region believed to have been produced with forced labour by members of the country’s Uygur minority group. China denies the allegations.

Additional reporting by Reuters



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