Are OZ Appliance Retailers Facing A Moral Dilemma Selling Goods Made With Claimed Forced Labour?
Are Australian appliance retailers facing a moral dilemma when selling Chinese products that the US Government, has identified as coming from manufacturing plants that it’s claimed use forced labour and are known to exploit humans, in the manufacture of products for markets like Australia.
Last week we revealed that Changhong Meiling a Chinese company on a U.S. sanctions list for allegedly using forced labour from China’s Uighur population was selling appliance product in Australia labelled Changhong or ChiQ.
Retailers who we have spoken to since our exclusive story last week claim they are “Concerned” about our revelations.
We can also reveal that Swedish appliance manufacturer Electrolux is a customer of the Changhong Meiling factory that is accused of using forced labour to manufacture appliances.
A visit to the List The Manufacturers Analytics site reveals that Electrolux and Avanti are two brands who are listed as customers of the Chinese appliance manufacturer both sell products in Australia.
At this stage It’s not known whether any of the Electrolux products made at the Changhong Meiling plant are being sold in Australia.
ChannelNews has asked Changhong management in Australia to comment on the claims made by the US government, but they have chosen to ignore several of our requests for an explanation.
We have also sort information on how many distributors are using the Meiling manufacturing plant to build house brand or other branded appliances sold to Australian retailers Australia.
Recently Costco who operate in Australia and are a major retailer in the US and Canadian markets stopped dealing with the Chinese Manufacturing Company.
Antony Blinken, the new US secretary of state, warned China that Washington would hold Beijing “accountable for its abuses”, in the first high-level interaction between the countries since Joe Biden became president.
Following a call with Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy official, Blinken said he had told his counterpart that the Biden administration would stand up for democratic values while holding Beijing to account for abuse in the manufacture of goods.
Best Buy and Home Depot are among several major retail chains that are under pressure over the sale of goods made using child and forced labour.
The action by Costco happened after the MSC Vega docked at the Port of Los Angeles on Nov. 12, among the thousands of shipping containers on board were more than 136 tonnes of cargo destined for one of Canada’s largest furniture and appliance outlets.
The 31 containers in that shipment held fridges made by Changhong Meiling — a Chinese company on a U.S. sanctions list for allegedly using forced labour from China’s Uighur population.
Based in Melbourne Changhong appliances are sold under the ChiQ and Changhong brand names and are still being sold in Australia.
It appears that neither the Australian Government or retailers have done anything about the import and sale of the Chinese Companies goods which are ranged at Harvey Norman Bing Lee, Betta Electrical, The Good Guys and other NARTA member stores.
A joint investigation by the Toronto Star in Canada and the Guelph Mercury Tribune revealed that tens of thousands of questionable Chinese goods similar to the ones manufactured by Changhong Meiling were flooding into Canada and the USA with the Canadian Government now acting.
Home Depot has severed ties with its supplier on the sanctions list including Changhong.
Last month more Companies were added to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s sanctions list, which bars American companies from selling goods to foreign firms its government alleges are implicated in the widespread repression of Uighurs in the country’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Internment camps in Xinjiang are estimated to be holding up to 2 million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.
Spurred by growing accounts of human rights abuses of Uighurs — including torture, sterilization, forced labour and mass transfers of forced labourers from Xinjiang to other parts of China — a Canadian Parliamentary subcommittee in October heard numerous, persuasive witnesses say China’s actions aimed to “eradicate Uighur culture and religion.”
After a Canadian Government inquiry into abuse claims, Mehmet Tohti, executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project said “We are still consuming the products coming from forced labour without any hesitation… That is shocking,” “Morally that is not acceptable behaviour”.
Last month the Canadian federal government announced new measures meant to discourage Canadian companies from importing goods made with forced labour, including its “Xinjiang integrity declaration” ensuring goods weren’t manufactured as part of human rights abuses.
The initiative came months after Canada amended its Customs Tariff to prohibit the importation of goods made with forced labour.
Australia appears to have no regulations in place to control the flow of products to retailers or distributors that have been made by Companies on the banned US lists.
Last week Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa the government is concerned about the situation in Xinjiang and pointed to new measures being introduced as part of a push to counter the human rights abuses.
“We are working with Canadian companies, all Canadian companies, to ensure that they are not benefitting from or profiting from these human rights abuses,” Trudeau said.