Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Apple faces internal opposition in China

October 2011

Apple continues to draw criticism for its operations in China, as those from within the country become increasingly vocal about the company’s supply chain management.

Multinationals are often censured outside of China for their exploitation of workers in the People’s Republic, but the computer giant is now regularly coming under fire there.

Last year, a spate of suicides at Foxconn, an Apple supplier, forced the government to intervene, though suicides have continued into this year.

This time it is Chinese NGOs taking aim at the firm: the results of a seven-month investigation, published as The Other Side of Apple, claims that Apple suppliers, including Foxconn, are breaking national environmental regulations and causing serious pollution, and represent a threat to public health.

The NGOs – Friends of Nature, the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle, Envirofriends and Nanjing Green Stone – say that while the company continues to expand, its environmental impact becomes greater and more unmanaged.

Liu Jianqiang, an author of the report, said: “Apple’s behaviour hasn’t improved at all. It has admitted there are issues in its supply chain, but it hasn’t made any adjustments to its policy, maintaining that ‘it is our long-term policy not to disclose supplier information’ and ignoring questions from environmental groups.”

Apple has long been criticised for its resistance to corporate responsibility: it is one of the world’s largest firms but has never published a CSR report.  

In response to the charges, Apple said it is “committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply chain”, adding that all its suppliers use “environmentally responsible manufacturing processes”.

  Volkswagen, meanwhile, has announced plans to reprocess used engines in China, the firm’s largest market. The firm will recycle at a specially-built plant in Dalian in what it is calling a ‘milestone’ for its operations in the country.

The firm said: “Volkswagen is making a key contribution to environmental protection and resource conservation, which is especially important in a country such as China where there is such a high demand for raw materials.”

Apple | Asia | Human rights

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