Xiaojing Sun, a senior research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said solar companies were starting to investigate their exposure to Xinjiang and reconfigure their supply chains to avoid the region if possible.
In a note to investors in October, analysts at Roth Capital Partners said the solar sector faced a “heightened risk of disruption” because of its ties to Xinjiang.
“Investors are getting nervous,” Ms. Sun said.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, the largest industry association in the United States, has called human rights abuses in Xinjiang “reprehensible” and strongly encouraged companies “to immediately move their supply chains out of the region.”
Since unfettered on-the-ground access to Xinjiang for foreign journalists and researchers is virtually impossible, the Horizon Advisory researchers do not provide direct testimony of forced labor. Instead, they present signs of possible coercion from Chinese-language documents and news reports, such as programs that may use high-pressure recruitment techniques, indoctrinate workers with patriotic or military education, or restrict their movement.
The report documents GCL-Poly accepting “surplus labor” from a rural region of Xinjiang last year. In 2018, according to an article on China Energy Net, a local news site, one of GCL-Poly’s subsidiaries also accepted more than 60 such workers.
A local subsidiary of Jinko Solar, Xinjiang Jinko Energy Co., received state subsidies for employing local Xinjiang labor, including at least 40 “poor workers from southern Xinjiang” in May, according to a local government announcement from July 2020 cited by Horizon Advisory.
On its public WeChat account, East Hope Group said that it had “responded to the national Western Development Call and actively participated in the development and construction of Xinjiang,” including constructing a polysilicon project in Changji prefecture in 2016, the Horizon report said.