Nike Exec Assures China: ‘Nike Is a Brand That Is of China and for China’

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Nike CEO John Donahoe rushed to reassure China’s communist rulers that his sportswear company is all about working with them, saying that, “Nike is a brand that is of China and for China.”

Donahoe made his comments during a phone conference with Wall Street analysts about Nike’s fourth-quarter earnings report.

According to the BBC, Donahoe told analysts that the recent report showed revenues doubled to $12.3 billion, beating expectations. The revenue helped push Nike to a $1.5 billion profit compared to the $790 million loss the sports apparel giant suffered at end of 2020.

Donahoe also reported that revenue in China alone had risen to $1.9 billion, though that missed the expected $2.2 billion.

Regardless, Donahoe insisted that China was a vital part of Nike’s customer base. “We’ve always taken a long-term view. We’ve been in China for over 40 years,” Donahoe said, adding that Nike co-founder Phil Knight “invested significant time and energy in China in the early days, and today we’re the largest sport brand there.”

The reassurances, though, come on the heels of Nike’s March statement expressing only mild concern about the ongoing oppression of China’s Uyghur minority.

“We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR),” the company said in a statement. “Nike does not source products from the XUAR, and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region.”

Despite its proclamation that it has worked to make sure its products are not made with slave labor, Nike also lobbied against a bill in Congress that would place a ban on goods produced by the slave labor in camps in China’s Xinjiang region.

Still, after its statement on slave labor, many media outlets in China began agitating against Nike and its products.

Right after the company’s March statement, Chinese state media outlets, the nation’s Foreign Ministry, and Communist Party-controlled social media launched a multi-faceted campaign against Nike. For instance, social media posts showing Chinese citizens burning their Nike gear flooded the country’s government-controlled social media sites.

In another case, Chinese state media operative Hu Xijin of the Global Times, warned Nike and others, saying, “all multinational enterprises should stay away from geopolitics.”

Nike CEO John Donahoe rushed to reassure China’s communist rulers that his sportswear company is all about working with them, saying that, “Nike is a brand that is of China and for China.”

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