On December 16, the U. S. Senate unanimously passed The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act after the House had unanimously passed the same bill two days earlier. President Biden has said he will sign the bill. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act bans all imports to the U. S. from China’s Xinjiang region, where the Chinese Communist Party practices genocide against Uyghurs, a Muslim religious minority, and maintains concentration camps with forced labor and forced sterilizations.
The bill was initially held up by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who opposed it, demanding that the bill include an extension of the child tax credit. By Senate rules, his opposition was enough to prevent the bill from moving forward. For months, Democrats opposed the bill and were joined by major corporations with business ties to China. This time, however, Democrats started working on Wyden (admittedly, the optics of Democrats opposing a bill that bans slave labor were horrible), and Wyden conceded, allowing the bill to pass.
Why did Sen. Wyden attempt to stop the bill? Some accuse him of being in the pocket of Nike, a major contributor. Nike makes substantial profits in China, and exploits slave labor to make its products, according to a study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The CEO of Nike, John Donahoe, has said of his company, “Nike is a brand that is of China and for China.”
The National Football League (NFL) is also entrenched in China, and also hand-in-hand with Nike. Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, said, “China is a priority market for the NFL. We believe that our game has a great deal of potential to expand to grow and bring new fans into our game. We have had double-digit growth this past year in China in our fan base and people engaging with our game. So we are excited by it.” In 2018, the NFL announced a partnership with Nike: “The National Football League and Nike announced a long-term extension to their on-field rights partnership. Central to the extension, Nike will continue to provide all 32 NFL Clubs with uniforms and sideline apparel bearing the Nike brand for use during all games.”
Based on a report by the U. S. State Department in July of 2021, it’s a good bet those uniforms and sideline apparel are made by slave labor. The State Department said, “Over the last four years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has carried out a mass detention and political indoctrination campaign against Uyghurs. … Authorities use threats of physical violence, forcible drug intake, physical and sexual abuse, and torture to force detainees to work in adjacent or off-site factories or worksites producing garments, footwear… material for solar power equipment” and other products. When you read “garments and footwear” think “Nike.” When you think “Nike,” think “NFL.”
The NFL is so in bed with the Communist Party of China that it recently published a marketing map that included Taiwan as part of China. In reality, Taiwan is an independent, sovereign nation, though the CCP has always insisted that it is part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan’s independence is guaranteed by the United States, though recent activities on the part of the PRC suggest rising tensions and the possibility that China may attempt to re-annex Taiwan by force. Apparently, the NFL is all on board with China’s plans for Taiwan!
The hypocrisy of both Nike and the NFL is outrageous. They regularly condemn the U. S. as a racist country, while profiting handsomely from business with China, an oppressive dictatorship that practices slavery, forced abortions, killing prisoners to harvest their organs for the black market, imprisonment of political prisoners, religious persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, and is now trampling on rights in Hong Kong and threatening Taiwanese independence. It should be pointed out, too, that racism against Blacks is rampant in Chinese culture and supported by the CCP.
These companies have no integrity. They are in it for the bottom line. Their supposed support of social justice concerns is suspect and pure virtue signaling. It’s no surprise, though, that they have come out in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM). The BLM organization is rooted in Marxist ideology, so it would probably find kinship with the CCP, even given the CCP’s reputation for fierce anti-Black racism. That’s because BLM is about power, not justice (not to mention financial wealth for its founders!). The only Black lives that matter to BLM are the ones that can help them push their agenda of power and influence (and wealth for its founders!).
Little will motivate Nike or the NFL to cut ties with China, or to demand that they adopt just labor practices and abandon other human rights atrocities. There’s one that will, however, and that’s money. If Nike and the NFL start feeling it in the pocketbook, and understand that their losses are directly related to peoples’ disgust toward their reliance on slave labor, there just might be a reckoning.
So, let Nike and the NFL know how you feel about them exploiting slave labor for profit, as well as their close ties to a repressive Communist regime. The only thing evil needs to win is for good people to say nothing.
Contact Brian McCarthy, VP of Corporate Communications, NFL: Brian.McCarthy@nfl.com
Contact Nigel Powell, Executive VP & Chief Communications Officer, Nike: Nigel.Powell@nike.com
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