At the Daqo New Energy Corp. factory in China’s Xinjiang region, workers carefully processed tall columns of refined silicon last week as a group of reporters and analysts looked on. It’s the first time outsiders were allowed to witness the mundane factory scene since China’s dominant solar industry has come under scrutiny for its labor practices.
Unlike three other companies in Xinjiang that produce polysilicon—a key ingredient in solar panels—Daqo hasn’t been linked to alleged human-rights abuses. Yet Daqo has upheld the same secrecy as its peers with ties to the government-run labor program that's under international scrutiny. As recently as March, the company declined interview requests for its executives and turned away foreign observers.