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Li & Fung CEO threads the needle on Xinjiang labor controversy

Phi says 'apolitical' company relies on 'boots on the ground' to check factories

Li & Fung's founding Fung family, with backing from Singapore logistics warehousing company GLP, took the group private in a deal valuing it at $1.36 billion.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Major international retailers and clothing brands have faced questions in recent years as to whether their products are made using forced labor involving China's Uyghur Muslim minority.

Hong Kong supply chain management company Li & Fung has long played a central role in channeling clothes and other goods from factories in China and elsewhere to Western brands and stores like Ralph Lauren and Walmart. For Chief Executive Joseph Phi, the issue of sourcing from factories in the Uyghurs' homeland in the northwest Xinjiang region requires delicate handling.

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