The government does not know if most solar panels imported from New Zealand are made by slaves

“Unprecedented Coercion”

Concern over the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang has been growing for years.

Numerous international reports from academics, journalists and advocacy groups suggest that more than a million Uyghurs are held in concentration camps, subjected to torture, sterilization and forced to participate in forced labor.

Beijing denies all the allegations, saying Uyghurs attend vocational education and counterterrorism centers and complete their jobs voluntarily.

But in May last year, Sheffield Hallam University in the UK released a report that Uyghurs in Xinjiang are being forced to help produce polysilicon, a core component of solar panels.

He revealed that 45% of the world’s polysilicon supply comes from Xinjiang, an environment of “unprecedented coercion, underpinned by the constant threat of re-education and internment”.

“The extent to which metallurgical-grade silicon and polysilicon from Xinjiang permeate the market means that module makers who want to avoid producing goods potentially tainted by forced labor in Xinjiang will need to carefully examine their supply chains, until raw quartz materials, to determine whether they are produced by forced labor or mixed with affected materials,” the report states.

According to a document obtained by Newshub, the Foreign Secretary was told by the MFAT last May that “the majority of solar panels imported into New Zealand in 2020 were produced in China.”

“However, it is not clear from customs data whether they were produced in Xinjiang, as customs ‘rules of origin’ only determine the national origin of a product,” he said. -he was informed.

More than a year after that, Newshub asked the MFAT whether it or other agencies had investigated whether solar panels – or the components used to produce them – imported into New Zealand were produced in Xinjiang.

“The government is limited in the information it is able to verify on imports given the way customs data is provided and collected globally, and it is not possible to determine the specific region of import. ‘where a commodity comes from in the country of origin,’ a spokesperson said. .

“The government encourages suppliers to ensure respect for human rights in their supply chains, and as noted earlier, this may include suppliers who seek information directly from suppliers on the provenance of inputs.”

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