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Should You Boycott PS5 & Xbox Series X Over Links to Uyghur Abuse?

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:37 PM
Thomas Bardwell
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:37 PM
  • A new report from the ASPI links human rights abuses against China’s Uyghur minority to more than 80 global brands. Among them are gaming giants Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.
  • An “exploitative government-led labor transfer scheme” has seen over 80,000 Uyghurs moved to these forced labor factories since 2017.
  • The onus is on gamers to hold them accountable.

While gamers fixate on the upcoming release of the PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Xbox Series X, a shocking report has uncovered links between the supply chains of gaming giants and Chinese forced labor factories  exploiting people from China’s Uyghur minority group.

The report, published earlier this week by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, implicates industry titans Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo:

Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing, and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony, and Volkswagen.

80,000 Uyghurs Moved to Forced Labor Factories

The report findings are based on evidence gathered from satellite images, academic research, media reports, and open-source Chinese-language documents.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute estimates that China moved upwards of 80,00 Uyghurs against their will from their home region of Xinjiang to 27 factories scattered across nine provinces in China since 2017 in what it calls an “exploitative government-led labor transfer scheme.”

Uyghurs Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo
Upwards of 80,000 Uyghurs have been forcibly removed from their homes. The creators of the Switch, PS5, and Series X are all linked, maybe unknowingly, to the abuse. | Source: ASPI 

A policy dubbed “Industrial Xinjiang Aid” allows Chinese manufacturing companies to transfer Uyghurs to distant factories.

This forced displacement is justified as calming the perceived civil unrest affecting the Xinjiang region, encouraging cultural “rehabilitation,” and aiding “poverty alleviation,” according to the ASPI report.

Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo ‘Possibly Unknowingly’ Linked to Human Rights Abuses

Among the companies identified as benefiting from the work of Uyghur laborers are Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.

In Sony and Microsoft’s case, their implication appears to stem from a relationship with Chinese firm O-Film Technology Co. Ltd, which produces cameras and touchscreens.

xbox series x creator Microsoft linked to Uyghur forced labor in China
The creators of the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch are all linked to human rights abuses in China. | Source: ASPI 

The two companies, as well as Nintendo, also have links to another company allegedly using forced labor. Hubei Yihong Precision Manufacturing specializes in back-lights and battery covers.

ps5 creator linked to Uyghur abuse
It’s not clear whether any components in the Switch, PS5, or Series X have been produced by forced laborers. | Source: ASPI 

The report specifies that foreign companies’ are “possibly unknowingly” involved in the exploitation of Uyghur laborers and human rights abuses.

In a statement sent to Vice Motherboard, Microsoft said :

Microsoft is committed to responsible and ethical sourcing. We take this responsibility very seriously and take significant steps to enforce our policies and code of conduct in support of human rights, labor, health and safety, environmental protection, and business ethics through our assurance program. All forms of forced labor are specifically banned by our Supplier Code of Conduct. We are investigating the claims and will take appropriate action if breaches of our code of conduct exist.

Will This Dampen Hype for PS5 & Xbox Series X?

xbox series x
With the Switch already out – and the Xbox Series X and PS5 on deck this year – will gamers hold their creators accountable? | Source: Dan Steinberg/Invision for Xbox/AP Images

From a gaming perspective, it’s unclear whether the factories involved produce components for Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo’s consoles. Or, whether they feature in the supply chains of the next-generation PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles.

Regardless, the deplorable conditions imposed on displaced Uyghur laborers could, and should, have an impact on consumer favor towards these companies.

Whether justice for Uyghurs suffering human rights abuses will trump the hype for the PS5 and Xbox Series X remains to be seen. The onus is on gaming consumers to hold Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo accountable.

Will you?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.