NBA stars urged to end China endorsements over forced labour
- Updated: June 2, 2021
WASHINGTON: A US congressional commission on Tuesday (Jun 1) called on American basketball stars to end endorsements of Chinese sportswear firms that use cotton grown in China’s Xinjiang region, warning against complicity in forced labour they say takes place there.
In a letter to the National Basketball Players Association, the chairs of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China said more than a dozen NBA players had deals with the China-based ANTA, Li-Ning and Peak sportswear firms prior to the publication of recent Western media articles saying the companies had backed continued use of Xinjiang cotton.
“Players have continued to sign new deals with Anta Sports,” the letter from Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Jim McGovern added.
“We believe that commercial relationships with companies that source cotton in Xinjiang create reputational risks for NBA players and the NBA itself,” they said, noting that the US government had determined China was committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and barred cotton imports from the region.
“The NBA and NBA players should not even implicitly be endorsing such horrific human rights abuses,” the letter said.
It said reporting since 2018 had revealed authorities in Xinjiang had systematically forced minority Muslims to engage in forced labour and there was credible evidence forced labour existed in Xinjiang cotton production.