Feb 29, 2020 - World

Chinese authorities send Uighurs to work at Nike supplier

The posters on the wall alongside the Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co. factory
The posters on the wall alongside the Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co. factory. Photo: Anna Fifield/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Hundreds of ethnic Uighurs have been sent to work at Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co., a large Nike supplier and one of the American brand's biggest factories, The Washington Post reports.

Why it matters per Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: Nike is one of the many American companies whose supply chains are closely intertwined with forced labor in Xinjiang, and it's actually against the law for U.S. companies to import goods made through forced labor.

  • The Chinese government says that its actions are related to poverty alleviation, but in many cases, Uighur wages are lower than what they were making before.
  • Chinese officials previously said that most Muslim Uighurs had "graduated" and were released from internment camps following international pressure, per the Post.

What they're saying:

  • Nike responded regarding the Uighur workers at the factory, telling the Post, "we respect human rights in our extended value chain, and always strive to conduct business ethically and responsibly."
  • The factory's South Korea parent company's CEO Kim Jae-min said, “The purpose of bringing in migrant Xinjiang workers (in addition to other migrant Han Chinese workers) is to offset the local labor shortage, due to increasing number of competing industries for workers in our area."

Go deeper... Report: Leaked files show how mass detention of Uighurs was organized

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