Apple supplier denies human rights abuses, calls for listing reversal

July 28, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Apple supplier denies human rights abuses, calls for listing reversal
Nanchang O-Film Technology, a supplier of camera and biometric modules to Apple and other smartphone makers, has denied committing any human rights violations and asked the US government review the decision to add it to the so-called entity list.

The entity list is a tool US Bureau of Industry and Security and imposes additional licensing requirements for export, re-export and in-country transfers of certain items. The list is intended to restrict activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. 

BIS, part of the US Department of Commerce, added 11 companies to the list on Monday July 20 in relation to an alleged campaign by the People's Republic of China targeted at Muslim minority groups from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The US alleges the campaign includes mass arbitrary detention, forced labor, involuntary collection of biometric data, and genetic analyses. One of those companies was Nanchang O-Film Technology.

In a statement issued on Wednedsay July 22 O-Film said its employees are never coerced to work and has always abided by the laws and regulations of the nations where it operates.

"We treat our employees equally and protect their rights and interests. Every year, multiple times, including in 2020, OFILM has passed independent third-party corporate social responsibility workplace audits organized by our customers, including surprise inspections," the statement said.

"With great respect, we call on the United States to re-examine its recent decision. We look forward to communicating fully with the relevant US government departments. We also look forward to a full airing of the facts and to a just outcome."

A BBC report quoted Apple saying it had not found any issues, despite conducting several surprise audits of its long-time supplier O-Film.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, visited O-Film in 2017, the same year the Chinese company gained design wins in iPads. O-Film is said to be supplying front-end camera modules and dual-camera modules for the upcoming iPhone 12, so the effective ban on the company's products could come as a severe blow to Apple.

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