Nike chief executive John Donahoe gave a fiery defense Thursday of the sports apparel company’s extensive business ties in China.
“Nike is a brand that is of China and for China,” Donahoe said during a call with Wall Street analysts after being asked about the backlash Nike received in China for having expressed concern about human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Actual quote from the CEO:
“Nike is a brand that is of China and for China.” https://t.co/oR2rdF2PeI
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) June 25, 2021
Donohue added that he believed China would continue to be a fast-growing market for the company.
“We’ve always taken a long-term view. We’ve been in China for over 40 years,” he said, “Phil [Knight] invested significant time and energy in China in the early days and today we’re the largest sports brand there,” he said in reference to Nike’s co-founder.
Nike had come under fire in China after state media circulated a months-old statement from the company denouncing reports of forced labor in Xinjiang, in which they also claim to not source any of their products.
Over one million Uyghur Muslims are known to be enslaved in the region, which produces more than four-fifths of China’s cotton.
Despite the backlash from Chinese media, the company saw its profits in greater China rise by 17% in the first three months of 2021 in comparison to the previous year, according to the Financial Times.
Nike, along with other American corporations like Coca-Cola and Apple, has also pushed back on legislation in Congress that would crack down on forced labor in China.
“Nike has long prioritized constructive discussions on issues of respecting human rights and enabling responsible manufacturing with Members of Congress, congressional staff and other government officials,” Nike told the Daily Caller in December when asked about their opposition to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. (RELATED: US Corporations With Big Business In China Stay Silent On Biden’s ‘Genocide’ Designation)
“We regularly provide insight and feedback at the request of policymakers on a wide range of public policy issues and have not lobbied against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, or any other proposed forced labor legislation,” the company added.
Nike has also been very critical of several policies in America, such as the recent Georgia voting law, despite committing to increase their business relationship with a country known for its notable human rights abuses.