Apple is lobbying Congress to soften the language in a bill aimed at preventing American companies from relying on forced labor in China for their products, according to a report from The Washington Post.
Two congressional staffers told The Post that lobbyists with the firm Fierce Government Solutions have sought to water down the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 403-6 in September, aims to ensure that American apparel and tech companies are not relying on the forced labor of Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province.
The Chinese government is suspected of holding more than 1 million Uighurs in detention camps in Xinjiang, which is a heavy producer of cotton products and computer parts.
The Post’s anonymous sources said several other companies in addition to Apple are trying to soften the language in the bill.
The House staffers did not tell The Post how Apple is seeking to curtail the bill, only that its lobbyists oppose the language of the bill in its current form.
Fierce Government Relations disclosed in congressional filings last month that Apple paid the firm $90,000 in the third quarter of this year to lobby Congress on multiple issues, including the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
In September, U.S. Customs and Border Protection blocked imports from four companies and one manufacturing plant in Xinjiang because they were suspected of using forced labor.
CBP alleged that the Chinese government is engaged in “systemic human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities” through the use of forced labor camps.
Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock told The Post that the company “is dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect.”
“We abhor forced labor and support the goals of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. We share the committee’s goal of eradicating forced labor and strengthening U.S. law, and we will continued working with them to achieve that,” Rosenstock told The Post.
He also said that Apple conducted an internal investigation into its supply chain this year and found no evidence that forced labor was used to manufacture Apple products.
The National Retail Federation, the largest retail trade group in the world, and Nike are also lobbying Congress on the bill.
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