The chairman and ranking member of the China Select Committee have sent four letters to the heads of Nike, Adidas, Temu, and SHEIN demanding answers about the companies’ apparent continued use of Uyghur forced labor in their supply chains despite the 2021 Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).
The China Select Committee, formally known as the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, held a hearing in April titled “The Chinese Communist Party’s Ongoing Uyghur Genocide.”
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., referenced the hearings in the letters sent on May 2.
“We received expert testimony which revealed that products made by Uyghurs in forced labor camps are still entering the United States,” the letter sent to Adidas President Rupert Campbell reads. “One expert told the Select Committee that Adidas is ‘sourcing garments made not only from cotton from the Uyghur Region but also viscose, lyocell, polyester, leather, and linen from the region.’” (The official name of the region is the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.)
“Continuing to import goods produced in part with the forced labor of Uyghurs potentially violates the UFLPA and creates the conditions in which the [Chinese Communist Party] is able to continue committing genocide,” the letter said.
President Joe Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act on Dec. 23, 2021. The bill “imposes importation limits on goods produced using forced labor in China, especially the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and imposes sanctions related to such forced labor.” Nike reportedly lobbied to “weaken” the bill, a claim which the company denies.
The letters sent to Nike President and CEO John Donahoe, SHEIN President Yangtian (Chris) Xu, and Temu President Qin Sun similarly stated that “[o]ne expert told the Select Committee that Nike is ‘sourcing garments made not only from cotton from the Uyghur Region but also viscose, lyocell, polyester, leather, and linen from the region.’”
During two different instances in 2022, Bloomberg News’ laboratory tested SHEIN garments that were sent to the U.S. and learned that they “were made with cotton from China’s Xinjiang region,” the outlet reported.
“SHEIN has no suppliers in the Xinjiang Region. Our suppliers are based in regions including Brazil, Southern China, and Turkey,” a SHEIN spokesperson told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement. “We take visibility across our entire supply chain seriously, and we are committed to respecting human rights and adhering to local laws in each market we operate in.”
“Our suppliers must adhere to a strict code of conduct that is aligned to the International Labour Organization’s core conventions. We have zero tolerance for forced labor,” the spokesperson said.
Researchers from the German-based Hochschule Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences and Agroisolab found cotton from Xinjiang in Adidas and Puma T-shirts and Hugo Boss shirts, The Guardian reported.
“The American people deserve to know how much of what they’re wearing was produced by forced labor in China. We’ve heard from victims about the brutality of forced labor camps that are part of the CCP’s ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China,” Krishnamoorthi, the Democratic representative, said in a statement on the letters. “These companies need to show that they’re following the law, and their supply chains are free from forced labor.”
“This is just the first step of our investigation. I look forward to working with Chairman Gallagher to shine a light on how forced labor may contaminate our supply chains, and how we need to put an end to this going forward,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Temu, which according to its website is “an online marketplace” founded in Boston, “ships its products through the de minimis channel,” a China Select Committee press release said.
“The de minimis loopholes enables shipments that are valued at less than $800 to avoid any US Customs and Border Patrol scrutiny, duty, or tax,” the press release said.
“Using forced labor has been illegal for almost a hundred years—but despite knowing that their industries are implicated, too many companies look the other way hoping they don’t get caught, rather than cleaning up their supply chains,” Gallagher, the Republican representative, said in a statement. “This is unacceptable.”
American businesses and companies selling in the American market have a moral and legal obligation to ensure they are not implicating themselves, their customers, or their shareholders in slave labor.
Our message to industry in these letters is clear: either ensure your supply chains are clean — no matter how difficult it is — or get out of countries like China implicated in forced labor.
Nike, Adidas, and Temu did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment about the letters or Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi’s statements.
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