On February 16, 2022, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA), the Chair and Co-chair, respectively, of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) released a letter to Amazon in which they asked publicly that the company support labor rights activist Tang Mingfang’s court appeal to clear his arrest record and compensate him for the fines he was forced to pay and for serving time in prison due to exposing labor abuses in Amazon’s supply chain in China.
The letter also requested publicly that Amazon update its company policies to protect whistleblowers, particularly in China, stating that the exposure of labor abuses and forced labor in the Amazon supply chain is not an exposure of company secrets nor is it a violation of company policy.
Tang Mingfang, 42, was a physical control engineer at Foxconn in Hengyang, Hunan province of China. According to China’s court documents, He was detained in September, 2019, for “leaking confidential company information.” He served a two-year prison sentence and was fined 10,000 RMB (approximately $1,500 US). The information that Tang provided led to changes at the factory where Amazon had a contract and included compensation to unpaid workers. Without Tang, Amazon may not have discovered the illegal use and abuse of student interns at its factories. China does not adequately enforce its own labor laws and workers are prevented from forming independent trade unions. In addition, reports from the South China Morning Post and The Sourcing Journal published found significant problems in the Chinese labor auditing industry including bribery, fraudulent consulting practices, and falsification of factory information in order to pass the company’s audits.
The CECC Commissioners and ranking minority members in Congress, including Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) joined the bipartisan letter with the Chairs.