Sen. Josh Hawley, a Montana Republican, challenged American corporations and NBA stars to stop profiting from “forced slave labor” from China during an appearance this week on Fox News.
The video: Hawley on Tuesday singled out the NBA and its biggest name, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, for criticism, telling “Fox News Live” host Steve Doocy they should commit to no longer “rely” on supply chains that use coerced workers.
- “All of the uniforms that the players wear, so many of them that are endorsed, the product lines endorsed by NBA stars, are made with forced labor in China and elsewhere. Uighur concentration camps, for instance, help make those Nike uniforms that the NBA wears,” Hawley said, referring to China’s draconian crackdown on its Muslim minority.
- “They should pledge right now, Nike, the NBA and all these American corporations, that they will not use forced slave labor, and I would challenge the NBA, [Chairman] Adam Silver, I would challenge all the endorsers of Nike products, like LeBron, to take a pledge that they will be slave-free, that they will not use in their product lines slave labor.”
- Hawley later tweeted a clip of the interview along with “#SlaveFree,” and also took a dig at the “woke brands” that “happily outsource labor to Chinese concentration camps.”
The NBA’s love affair with China: Hawley has joined other Republicans in criticizing the NBA for ignoring the communist regime’s human rights abuses while profiting off the Chinese market.
- President Donald Trump, who recently unleashed a barrage of rhetorical and diplomatic punishment on Beijing, slammed NBA coaches and officials last October for “pandering” to America’s biggest economic rival.
The NBA was backpedaling at the time from Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the Hong Kong democracy protest movement.
- The league and the Rockets organization had said Morey did not speak for them, with the league calling his tweet “regrettable.”
- Players and coaches who have regularly criticized Trump and advocated for social justice causes, had refused to defend Morey let alone criticize China.
- James, whose ties to China via Nike are highly lucrative, had chastised the owner and lamented that “a lot of negative” can come with “freedom of speech.”
- Still, the NBA’s official Chinese partners suspended ties with the league, including by barring broadcasts of games on state TV.
On June 30, a month ahead of the planned resumption of the coronavirus-interrupted NBA season, Silver told Time he felt the league’s relationship with China had improved and hoped the two sides could “find mutual respect.”
- That same day, Beijing imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong.