Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese sports retailer Anta is continuing to use Xinjiang cotton, rebuffing international scrutiny of forced labor in the Xinjiang cotton industry as the Chinese government denies allegations of human rights violations there.

Why it matters: Anta is the official Olympics uniform supplier and refuses to say if it uses Xinjiang cotton in them. Its products have not been directly tied to forced labor. Due to the opacity of supply chains in China and the secrecy surrounding forced labor factories, it's very difficult to determine which products are tainted.

  • But if they are, it further signals that China's leaders intend to host the 2022 Winter Olympics on their own terms.

Context: The Chinese government has implemented a campaign of forced assimilation and genocide in its northwest region of Xinjiang, putting more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities into mass internment camps and conscripting detainees to work in factories and agricultural production.

  • The cotton and textile industries in Xinjiang are especially affected. Much of China's cotton comes from Xinjiang; and since Chinese factories are deeply integrated with global supply chains, numerous multinational companies including Nike, Asics, H&M, and Apple have found themselves facing reports of forced labor in their supply chains.

Details: In October 2019, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) announced Anta would supply uniforms, shoes and accessories for the Tokyo Olympics, the Beijing Olympics, and several other events — becoming the first Chinese company to supply sportswear for IOC members and staff.

  • That same month, Anta announced it had also become the first Chinese company to join the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), an international cotton watchdog organization with operations in Xinjiang.
  • In 2020, BCI announced it was ceasing operations in Xinjiang because it couldn't engage ethically there. After Chinese state media criticized BCI's actions in March 2021, Anta announced it would withdraw from the organization.
  • Amid a recent Chinese state-fanned consumer backlash against foreign companies that had publicly disavowed the use of Xinjiang cotton, Anta said that it used Xinjiang cotton and would continue to do so.

What they're saying: "We have always bought and used cotton produced in China, including Xinjiang cotton, and in the future we will continue to do so,” Anta said in a statement in late March.

  • Anta did not respond to multiple emailed requests for comment, and did not reply when asked if they use Xinjiang cotton in Olympic uniforms.
  • An IOC spokesperson tells Axios, "For our uniforms in Tokyo, no cotton was used and we have been working closely with Anta to monitor the conditions in the factories producing our goods. The IOC is committed to continue its due diligence efforts with Anta."

Background: Anta, founded in 1991, has become one of China's top sports retailers in recent years through a series of shrewd moves.

  • It broke into the NBA by signing stars Klay Thompson and Gordon Hayward, among others, to signature deals.
  • It also acquired Japanese ski brand Descente (2016), South Korean outdoors brand Kolon Sport (2017) and Finnish sporting goods company Amer Sports (2019), helping it expand globally without needing to introduce foreign consumers to a relatively unknown Chinese brand.

The state of play: Since last month, Anta's stock has risen 21% as Chinese consumers angrily flee brands like Nike and Adidas over their refusal to use Xinjiang's cotton.

  • Anta has used nationalism as a marketing strategy for years now, so doubling down on the cotton controversy by pulling out of the BCI was par for the course as they continue trying to eat into competitors' market share.

The big picture: By fanning nationalism and harnessing the power of its massive consumer markets to punish companies that support basic human rights and reward those who instead support the party's bottom lines, the Chinese Communist Party has created an unprecedented challenge to global human rights norms.

  • Beijing has clearly communicated the economic costs it will impose on any country or company that takes a stand against China's hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Go deeper: The U.S. has the tools to fight Uyghur forced labor

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Aug 3, 2021 - World

Former intel chief pushes to move 2022 Beijing Olympics

Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

John Ratcliffe, President Trump's final director of national intelligence, tells Axios that the U.S. should push to move the Winter Olympics, scheduled to open in Beijing in six months, on national-security grounds.

Driving the news: In a statement to Axios, Ratcliffe cited the Chinese Communist Party's "mass cover-up of COVID's origins and its initial outbreak, in addition to its crimes against humanity in Xinjiang."

Federal judge says Florida ban on "sanctuary cities" racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing "sanctuary city" policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.

Biden steps into the breach

Sen. Joe Manchin heads to a meeting with President Biden today. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden ramped up the pressure on his fellow Democrats Wednesday, calling a series of lawmakers to the White House in the hope of ending infighting and getting them in line.

Why it matters: Divisions within the party are threatening to derail Biden's top priorities. After several weeks of letting negotiations play out, the president is finally asserting his power to ensure his own party doesn't block his agenda.