Chinese rail firm refutes 'forced labor' claims in Australia
Published: Jun 29, 2021 10:08 PM
A freight train in Australia Photo: VCG

A freight train in Australia Photo: VCG

Chinese railway equipment manufacturer KTK Group on Tuesday pushed back against claims from some Australian media outlets that the company used "forced labor" from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, saying that the allegations are "groundless" and its overseas business operations remain normal. 

A staff at the company told the Global Times on Tuesday that the claim was an old slander that started a while ago, and the company has already clarified the matter and even asked third-party organizations to inspect the company to reassure its clients.

 "We did hire dozens of Uygur workers before, as part of a poverty alleviation program, but the workers were all voluntary," said the staff, adding that the allegations were "groundless."

Some Australian media reports recently claimed that a billion-dollar train deal in Perth involving French firm Alstom was linked to "forced labor" in China, because KTK Group was a supplier.

The staff at KTK said that the company has businesses both in France and Australia, and Alstom has been its customer for many years.

The company's products cover all the main bullet train models and major urban rail vehicles in China, and they are exported to dozens of markets, including the UK, France and Australia, according to a company report published in August 2020.

The "forced-labor" allegation regarding the Chinese trainmaker has circulated in some foreign media reports since July 2020, when KTK became one of the 11 companies on a US blacklist over the allegation.

After the US blacklist came out, the transport minister of Australia's Queensland state, Mark Bailey, asked his department to urgently review whether parts manufactured by KTK overseas and installed in the state's new trains involved any forced labor, while looking for alternative suppliers, media reports said.

But the government in Australia's Victoria state recently assured that there was no so-called forced labor involved in KTK Group's business. New trains for Melbourne's railway network would continue to be built with parts from KTK, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on June 15.