Report: Nike Among U.S. Brands Pushing to Weaken Uyghur Anti-Slavery Bill

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Sportswear giant Nike is reportedly working to undermine a bill that would punish China for using forced labor camps for manufacturing goods sold in the west.

According to the New York Times, Nike, along with other manufacturing giants such as Apple, Adidas, H&M, Patagonia, Tommy Hilfiger, and others, reportedly hope to pull the teeth out of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. This bill recently passed the House with broad bipartisan support in a vote of 406 to 3.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would prohibit “all imports from Xinjiang unless a company can clearly prove that the products were not made by slaves. The burden of proof falls on the person or company trying to import an item from Xinjiang to offer ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that the imports ‘were not produced wholly or in part by convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor under penal sanctions,'”  Breitbart’s Frances Martel reports. The bill targets the forced labor camps in China’s Xinjiang region where both raw materials — including sugar, cotton, foodstuffs, and parts produced for clothing and electronics manufacturing — as well as finished products such as shoes, are produced.

Lobbyists representing Nike and other mega-corporations claim that the bill could cause severe disruptions in their supply chains which are deeply embedded in China, the paper reports.

Nike, along with other manufacturers, was named in a study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) which claimed as many as 83 international corporations maintain ties to factories where the ruling Communist Party of China has shipped thousands of Uyghur Muslims to be used as slave labor.

Also, nearly 200 labor and human rights groups have launched a campaign claiming that “virtually the entire apparel industry is tainted by forced Uyghur and Turkic Muslim labour.” Specifically, the group claims that 80 percent of the cotton used to make clothing in China was picked in Xinjiang province, a fact which makes it extremely likely that Uyghur slaves are being used to pick the cotton.

Some of these large manufacturers, including Coca-Cola and Nike, claim that they have already conducted voluntary audits of their supply chain to rid their products of forced labor. Nike also claimed that they are not really lobbying against the act but that they do have concerns.

For instance, Nike claimed that it engaged in “constructive discussions” with congressional staffers involved in crafting the bill.

The sportswear giant claimed it had already eliminated any materials or products from its supply chain from the Xinjiang area. But the Times added that “According to a report published in March by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute that cited state media, the factory employed around 800 Uighur workers at the end of 2019 and produced more than seven million pairs of shoes for Nike each year.”

Despite Nike’s claim that it did not lobby against the act, the Times also reported that “Nike spent $920,000 on in-house lobbying of Congress and other federal agencies.” The paper lists another $400,000 paid to several other lobbying groups, some of whom approached Congress on the Uyghur act.

In response, Nike claimed that these lobbying groups’ expenditures were earmarked before the Uyghur act came up for discussion.

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