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US Solar Companies Depend on Xinjiang Equipment, Where Compulsory Labor Force Deployment

China / Reuters cable

A father walks on a solar panel at a power plant under construction in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, April 5, 2012.

This work was supported by Eyebeam Location of the Future of Journalism, Pulitzer Center, and Open a Technology Fund.

Solar energy has long been known as a good business, saving the earth by providing clean energy. But these companies have a downside: They rely heavily on Xinjiang – a region in China that has been similar to the pressure on minority Muslims – on big issues.

Over the past four years, China has kept more than a million people in support area throughout his region of Xinjiang. Many of these camps you have factories where few Muslims are forced to work. Solar companies rely heavily on equipment and equipment released from the region, where strict government control makes it impossible for outside observers to monitor whether people are working voluntarily. However, there are a few that can provide you with goods on what solar panels companies need in the US.

It is a unique case of polysilicon, a type of stainless steel that combines to form solar cells, which convert light into energy. In 2016, only 9% of the global solar polysilicon test came from Xinjiang. But by 2020 it accounted for about 45% of the world’s total, according to industry analyst Johannes Bernreuter.

One of China’s leading manufacturers of polysilicons is closely associated with the government-led group, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). Last year, the US government fought for the rights of the XPCC for helping Beijing capture more Muslims, and the US banned its cotton, citing evidence that it was made by force.

American solar companies have a choice: ignore the threat of human rights abuses or create alternative low-cost alternatives for companies that are struggling to compete with many forms of energy efficiency.

China’s largest manufacturer of polysilicon said it works with “vocational schools”In Xinjiang, a red flag because the Chinese government has used the word as a derogatory term in concentration camps.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, which represents solar companies in the United States, opposes the “human rights violations” in Xinjiang and “encourages” companies to move their chains out of the region, says John Smirnow, the group’s attorney general.

“We have no indication that the sun is directly affected,” he said, “but in reporting, we want to ensure that people are forced to be part of the solar system. “

But as President-elect Joe Biden prepares for office, after promising to rehabilitate US weapons, American companies have a choice: either to ignore the threat of human rights abuses or to resort to low-cost alternatives to power-hungry nations.

Costfoto / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

A manufacturer manufactures polysilicon quartz rods in Donghai County, Jiangsu Province, China, June 30, 2020.

China came to power international companies polysilicon afterwards Set prices on polysilicon orientation from the US, South Korea, and the EU and increased domestic production, in return for refunds on prices from the US, in 2014. China is one of the world’s largest producers of polysilicon, which means it did not attract many companies outside China to compete because it was not cheap to export there. Since then, Chinese polysilicon companies have grown, not only in Xinjiang but in other places such as southwest of Sichuan province.

“Most of the sales are based in China, and most of them in Southeast Asia are plants that Chinese companies live in,” Bernreuter said. “There is no other major way to sell goods.”

But shipments from Xinjiang have angered lawmakers in the United States in recent months.

Last meeting, delegate reasoning a bill that would ban all property in the area, an order that could be revived in the coming phase. Housing Money in particular Poverty alleviation programs which makes Xinjiang Muslims work in factories and farms far from their homeland.

“It is impossible to monitor the hard work in Xinjiang.”

Since late 2016, the Chinese government has launched a campaign that includes mass arrests, digital surveillance, education, and the incarceration of nearly 13 million Muslims in western Xinjiang, including Uighurs, Kazakhs, and others. Non-Chinese people who come to Xinjiang are often monitored or escorted by the police, which is why it is difficult for companies to check their finances under duress, experts say.

“It is impossible to boldly monitor the number of workers in Xinjiang because it is impossible to find the right person for the area. And their ability to interview workers, especially workers at Uighur, is limited by monitoring, “said Amy Lehr, director of the human rights program at the Center for Strategic and International Study in Washington, DC, and executive secretary of reports on the forced population in the area, he told BuzzFeed News.

But US Customs and Border Protection already has an order banning the importation of goods from the area if they suspect that forced labor has been used. The agency suspended the delivery of human hair from Xinjiang in July based on reports that the additions were made using prison. In December, CBP took the goods of cotton parts and computers from Xinjiang. This week, prohibited Exporting tomato and cotton fruits from the region to so-called “slaves.”

“It is possible that the solar industry could be monitored by CBP in the case of forced labor in Xinjiang even if they do not have a ban in the area because the matter is being closely monitored,” Lehr said.

The Horizon Advisory research team said in a report that polysilicon from Xinjiang arrives in the US.

The report states: “The goods are imported into the United States directly from China and through a combination of transport and export control in a number of other countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam,” he concluded. very much ”In these companies, including“ electrical appliances imported into the United States. “

Compulsory labor is used to create jobs that do not require special skills. Some of these materials, such as breaking tubes, are used to make polysilicon.

If the U.S. were to ban the importation of polysilicon from China, industry experts say U.S. companies may have a fair chance of shortcoming, but they could face higher costs and other problems for the company.

First, other components used in aerospace technology also oversee Chinese manufacturing. When polysilicon is formed, it is cut into small particles called “yeast.” Most of the chefs live in China. And compared to other parts of China, it is cheaper to make polysilicon in Xinjiang, where companies can get more money from the government and the price of electricity, provided by coal seeds, and their pay is lower compared to China’s rich regions.

REC Silicon, a Norwegian polysilicon manufacturer based in the US, has invested more than $ 1 billion in the construction of a polysilicon factory in Washington State. After Chinese taxes hit U.S. goods, the company is expected to start making slow and closing in 2019.

And companies may face housing problems in the future. Directed by Hemlock Semiconductor Group, US polysilicon manufacturer, told the bankers on October 22 that he was “certain” of a U.S. government study on solar power.

BuzzFeed Stories; Google Earth

Satellite imagery showing the design of the Daqo polysilicon plant

Most of Xinjiang’s polysilicon is made by four Chinese companies, which are one of the six largest exporters in the world. One, Daqo New Energy Corp, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This raises the need for transparency which allows for an understanding of how it works.

According to Chinese media and the company’s website, it is closely linked to China’s Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) – the world’s most powerful city-governing body. Commonly known in Chinese as “body,” its activities include helping Chinese people migrate to Xinjiang and managing farms. The XPCC released a document document in 2013 establishing solar energy as one of the “goals” of its growth.

In July, the US government launched the XPCC, saying it had helped implement Beijing’s policy of expelling Muslims. On December 2, US banned from importing cotton produced by XPCC, citing evidence that it uses coercion.

XPCC could not be reached for comment.

In a public game produced in October by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Daqo nodded that it found “additional benefits” on electricity prices because XPCC uses a regional power grid. Local government newspaper he added XPCC paid Daqo’s support of more than 489,447 yuan (approximately $ 75,000). The companies also received large sums of money from the Shihezi government, a city in Xinjiang under XPCC. In Chinese Press release, Another Daqo company in Xinjiang has also identified itself as the “new pilot company” of XPCC.

Daqo polysilicon plant is located more than 7 miles north of Shihezi City. Construction began in 2011, when a plot of land the size of 110 square feet[sq m]was cleared to make way for a plant. By 2013, it was complete, with large industrial buildings covering the area, connected by a network of elevated pipelines. In 2014, the council was expanded by an additional three million meters, and over the next two years, new buildings were added. The most recent growth of the plant took place in the summer of 2019. Another three million feet were added to the southwest end of the room, and some previously unused sections of the site were filled with houses. The plant now has 12.2 million feet, equivalent to 215 football fields.

Daqo was not available for comment, but they have already said he does not use it “under any circumstances,” either in private homes or in public places.

In Xinjiang, programs known as “poverty alleviation” were linked to forced populations, according to a study by CSIS and other organizations.

“It would not be possible to have a coal-producing business with slaves.”

One of the largest polysilicon manufacturers in Xinjiang, GCL-Poly Energy, said it was working with “training schools in Xinjiang in the annual report. The government has been referring to training camps in the area as vocational training schools.” GCL-Poly participates in poverty alleviation activities.

GCL-Poly could not be described.

The companies have to choose, says Francine Sullivan, Vice President of Business Development at REC Silicon, a Norwegian polysilicon manufacturer.

“It would be impossible to have factories built on coal by slaves,” he said. “Most people in the sun think we will be bathed in a greenhouse away from us. We don’t have to deal with it because we are around the sun.”


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