The House Select Committee on China is investigating sportswear companies for using materials produced by China’s labor camps that exploit Uyghur Muslims from the country’s Xinjiang province. According to the Washington Free Beacon, large companies such as Nike and Adidas will face congressional scrutiny and be pressured into severing its ties with China. The effort is not just to reduce America’s reliance on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but to encourage businesses and investors to have a moral conscience when choosing where to source their products.
Both Republicans and Democrats have supported the investigation, finding common ground over the “moral and legal responsibility” businesses and investors have in ending their reliance on Chinese supply lines that function on exploitation. The committee cited the U.S. Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a 2021 law that applies sanctions on companies using Chinese slave labor. Lawmakers are demanding Nike and Adidas, along with other companies, reveal whether any garments imported into the United States have come from Xinjiang and/or have been made by the forced labor of Uyghurs.
Other companies that lobbied against the legislation, and are suspected of being complicit in China’s exploitation of Uyghurs for forced labor, include Coca-Cola, the Campbell Soup Company, Intel, Tesla, and Calvin Klein. Adrian Zenz, senior fellow and director of China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, told the House committee that “high-risk industries” include “the global apparel and textiles sector, the solar sector, car batteries, agriculture, electronics, toys, automotive, [and] numerous others.”
Naomi Kikoler, director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, alerted lawmakers to the danger and guilt of using products created through forced labor. Kikoler said, “Though we may never have met someone who is Uyghur or we may never have been to China, each of us owns a t-shirt that might have been made with cotton from Xinjiang, which was likely made by forced labor,” adding that “the crimes against Uyghurs are woven into the lives of everyday Americans.”