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Reima cuts ties to Chinese company after Yle probe of possible links to forced labour

A Finnish clothing firm is halting its partnership with a Chinese subcontractor discussed in an Yle investigative report on possible links to forced labour.

Kuvakaappaus.
A screenshot of a Chinese news story shows Haoyuanpeng CEO Zeng Yifa. The Reima logo appears on the sleeve of a jacket on the left. Reima told Yle that the jacket was made at Haoyuanpeng's factory in eastern China.

Finnish clothing manufacturer Reima said on Sunday that it is ending its partnership with a Chinese subcontractor described in an Yle investigative report published earlier in the day.

According to Reima, in the light of allegations made in the Yle article, there is a risk that not all of Reima's requirements are met in the company's operations.

The Yle story also reported on subcontractors in China's western Xinjiang region supplying the German retailer Lidl, which has shops in Finland. Lidl told Yle that it has not ordered from the factory mentioned in the story.

On Sunday, Yle released a report on links between subcontractors for Lidl and Reima and possible forced labour by members of the Uighur minority in China.

The Yle story said that Reima has used a subcontractor named Haoyuanpeng, which also has a factory in Xinjiang. Haoyuanpeng has also been involved in Chinese government programmes that researchers say are linked to Uighur forced labour.

"Zero tolerance for human rights violations"

German anthropologist Adrian Zenz, an internationally recognised expert on the mass detention of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in re-education camps in Xinjiang, urges all companies to sever ties with Chinese companies operating in the region.

"We have zero tolerance for human rights violations, and in light of the allegations that have arisen, there is a risk that not all of our requirements will be met in the operations of the Haoyuanpeng Group," said Reima communications manager Riikamaria Paakkunainen.

Reima says it has not ordered products from the Haoyuanpeng plant in Xinjiang, but from the company's other plant in eastern China.

"Although our products have never been manufactured in their Xinjiang factory, we have decided to stop cooperating with this group of companies," Paakkunainen said.

Reima told Yle earlier that it would not buy raw materials from or manufacture products in Xinjiang.

Lidl not currently using suspect subcontractor

Lidl Finland previously told Yle that it had not yet ordered products from its subcontractor's factory in Xinjiang. According to Yle's report, Lidl uses two factories in Xinjiang.

In recent years, Lidl Finland has sold outerwear manufactured by the Chinese firm Kashi Rising Garment in an industrial centre in Xinjiang. According to researchers, the activities of such companies involve a significant risk of forced Uighur labour.

After the story was published, Yle also asked Lidl whether it intends to buy products or raw materials made in Xinjiang in the future.

Lidl did not say how it will deal with products from Xinjiang in the future, but said it would stop ordering from one factory.

"Lidl is monitoring the situation very closely. In all similar situations, we will first resolve any ambiguities with our suppliers and within the framework of our due diligence. We are in contact with our supplier so that we can reliably assess the situation. In this case, orders will not be placed for the time being," Lidl Finland sustainability specialist Laura Kvissberg said on Sunday.

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