Nike Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe defended his company’s relationship with Communist China in a phone call with Wall Street analysts on earnings.
“Nike is a brand that is of China and for China,” Donahoe said.
Donahoe’s comment comes after Nike released a statement in March claiming it is “concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).”
While the company also claimed it does not directly source its product material from forced labor, critics argue the country’s supply chains are interwoven. There are thought to be more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims held in Xinjiang — which delivers 80 percent of Chinese cotton.
Nike partnered with Coca-Cola and Apple to lobby against a Xinjiang forced labor measure last November. The bill — called the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act — made its way through the House of Representatives 406 to 3.
The bill would have “impose[d] various restrictions related to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region, including by prohibiting certain imports from Xinjiang and imposing sanctions on those responsible for human rights violations there.” An Australian report from March 2020 alleged Nike, Apple, and 80 other corporations are “potentially directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through abusive labour transfer programs as recently as 2019.”
An earnings release Thursday shows Nike increased reported sales in China, sitting at $1.9 billion for a three-month period. This number is a 17 percent increase from the same time last year. 80 percent of Nike’s donations went to Democrats in 2020, amounting to more than $604,000.
While discussing Nike’s success in China, Donahoe said, “We have been in China for over 40 years” and the “biggest asset is consumer equity …it’s real, I saw it in my first week on the job.”
Nike did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.