Chinese EV battery giants reject U.S. ‘forced labor’ allegations

A view of the CATL booth at the 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, Beijing, China, May 3, 2024. /CFP

A view of the CATL booth at the 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, Beijing, China, May 3, 2024. /CFP

Major Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery makers CATL and Gotion High-Tech have rejected U.S. lawmakers’ allegations of connections to “forced labor.”

A group of U.S. Republican lawmakers called for the two firms to be added immediately to an import ban list known as the “entity list” under the so-called Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), alleging that the companies’ supply chains use “forced labor,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In a statement posted online on Friday, CATL said it is in strict compliance with all applicable laws and regulations with respect to its operations and business activities in the United States.

“A June 5 letter by U.S. Members of Congress, accusing CATL of having connections to forced labor, is groundless and completely false,” the battery maker said, noting that its business relations with some suppliers quoted in the letter had ceased long ago.

A technician checks reactor operation on a production line of Gotion High-Tech, Hefei City, east China’s Anhui Province. /CFP

A technician checks reactor operation on a production line of Gotion High-Tech, Hefei City, east China’s Anhui Province. /CFP

Gotion High-Tech said that any allegations suggesting it engages in forced labor or is related to forced labor are completely unfounded and absolutely false.

“Gotion High-Tech has consistently upheld the values of respecting human rights and protecting employee rights,” the company said in a statement. “Our selection of partners is also based on a rigorous audit mechanism and evaluation standards.”

Chinese officials have repeatedly stated the allegation of “forced labor” in Xinjiang is a lie propagated to smear the country’s image, as it goes against the fact that the rights and interests of people of all ethnic backgrounds in Xinjiang are effectively protected.

Since the U.S. signed the UFLPA into law in December 2021, 65 Chinese companies have been listed for sanctions, covering industries such as textiles, apparel, agriculture, polysilicon, plastics, chemicals, batteries, household appliances, electronics and food additives.

A factory in Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, September 19, 2023. /CFP

A factory in Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, September 19, 2023. /CFP

A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the UFLPA “might as well be called the most notorious and egregious law against human rights in the 21st century.”

The act not only imposes illegal sanctions on Chinese companies, but also forces companies around the world to join the U.S. attempt to contain and suppress China, and tries to create a coalition for economic coercion, the spokesperson said at a press conference on May 21.

According to new data from SNE Research, CATL accounted for 37.7 percent of the market during the January-April period this year, remaining the world’s largest battery manufacturer, while Gotion, which is partially owned by Volkswagen, ranked ninth globally. 

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency