EXCLUSIVE US electronics firm struck deal to transport and hire Uyghur workers

U.S. remote-control maker Universal Electronics Inc (UEIC.O) told Reuters it struck a deal with authorities in Xinjiang to transport hundreds of Uyghur workers to its plant in the southern Chinese city of Qinzhou, the first confirmed instance of an American company participating in a transfer program described by some rights groups as forced labor.

The Nasdaq-listed firm, which has sold its equipment and software to Sony, Samsung, LG, Microsoft and other tech and broadcast companies, has employed at least 400 Uyghur workers from the far-western region of Xinjiang as part of an ongoing worker-transfer agreement, according to the company and local officials in Qinzhou and Xinjiang, government notices and local state media.

In at least one instance, Xinjiang authorities paid for a charter flight that delivered the Uyghur workers under police escort from Xinjiang’s Hotan city – where the workers are from – to the UEI plant, according to officials in Qinzhou and Hotan interviewed by Reuters. The transfer is also described in a notice posted on an official Qinzhou police social media account in February 2020 at the time of the transfer.

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