U.S. Senate Asks Carmakers About Chinese Manufacturing Link

(FiveNation.com)- The Senate Finance Committee has contacted eight major automakers requesting they disclose whether any of the components used in the manufacture of their vehicles can be linked to forced labor in China, according to letters made public last week.

A law that took effect in June bans the import of goods made through forced labor in the Xinjiang province of China as part of Washington’s effort to push back against Beijing’s human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent letters to the CEOs of major automakers, including General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Tesla, asking about Chinese supply chain issues, urging them to “scrutinize” their relationship with any suppliers with links to the Xinjiang province.

Letters were also sent to the CEOs of Toyota, Volkswagen, Chrysler’s parent company Stellantis, and Mercedes-Benz.

Wyden reminded the CEOs that they must, with due diligence, confirm that the components used in their vehicles are not linked to China’s forced labor, warning that if their vehicles do contain forced labor components, they will be unable to sell their vehicles in the United States.

The senator asked the automakers if they have ever canceled or curtailed the use of suppliers who use “raw materials, mining, processing, or parts manufacturing linked to Xinjiang.”

Wyden cited a recent report from researchers at the UK’s Sheffield Hallam University on the auto industry’s use of components and parts produced in Xinjiang which found that “practically every part of the car would require heightened security” to ensure it is “free of Uyghur forced labor.”

In a statement on Thursday, General Motors said that it actively monitors its global supply chain and its supplier contracts forbid the use of forced labor.

Stellantis said in a statement that “building strong responsible supply chains is an important focus for us.” The company said it monitors its suppliers for compliance with its code of conduct both through contractual commitments and with ongoing evaluations.

In its statement, Volkswagen said it takes corporate responsibility seriously and would be responding to the Senate letter soon. The company said it rejects “forced labor and all forms of modern slavery.”