Nike’s chief executive officer made waves recently while defending the company’s business prospects in China, making a comment that betrays the loyalty of the sports apparel company.
Nike CEO John Donahue said during an earnings call that the Nike brand “is of China and for China.” according to BBC News.
The comments were part of a larger discussion about the company’s fourth-quarter earnings. While Nike made significant gains throughout the world, their earnings in China fell short of expert’s estimates.
The dip is the consequence of a boycott in China over a recent statement that Nike issued, raising concerns about the forced labor camps in Xinjiang as part of the Uighur genocide.
The statement said that Nike was “concerned about” reports coming from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and assured customers that they do not sell products made in the XUAR. They added that they confirmed with all of their suppliers that no basic materials such as yarn or textiles come from the XUAR.
Last year, Nike was amongst several companies to undergo scrutiny for their potential involvement or complicity in the use of forced labor, labor which is connected to the Uyghur slave trade and Chinese Communist Party’s “de-radicalization centers.” The XUAR produces approximately 20% of the global supply of cotton.
Companies quickly dropped suppliers from the region as fears that the product was being produced with slave labor, but the Chinese Communist Party responded by criticizing the withdrawal of business as a concerted effort to damage the country’s economy.
Despite the recent dip in sales in China, Nike’s CEO insisted that the company will double down on its efforts in the country.
Donahue said that the company will continue its over 40 year long presence in the country and claimed that Chinese consumers harbor “a strong, deep connection” with the brand.
Critics were quick to point out that Nike is simply bending the knee to the oppressive communist party’s pressure in exchange for a bit of profit.
As sports commentator Jason Whitlock pointed out, Nike can’t have two masters. It’s America or China, and Nike has chosen China.
Author: Jenny Clayton