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LeBron James would be proud.
The New York Times reports that Apple, Nike, and Coca-Cola are among the many global companies and business groups lobbying Congress to weaken a bipartisan bill that cracks down on human rights abuses and forced labor in China.
“The bill also targets so-called poverty alleviation and pairing programs that ship Muslims from impoverished areas to work in factories elsewhere, which human rights groups say are often coercive.”
For human rights supporters, the bill is great news. For companies that care about their bottom line first, it’s terrible.
The legislation, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, bans imported goods from China’s Xinjiang region made with forced labor. In September, the House passed the bill 406 to 3. Aides say that it has the backing to pass in the Senate and that either the Trump or Biden administration could sign it into law.
If passed, companies would be required to disclose information on their ties to Xinjiang to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
It would “require companies sending goods to the United States to scrutinize those supply chains, or perhaps abandon Chinese suppliers altogether.”
“While they strongly condemn forced labor and current atrocities in Xinjiang,” the Times notes. “The act’s ambitious requirements could wreak havoc on supply chains that are deeply embedded in China.”
Translation: They do care. Just not that much.
It’s unknown to what extent the lobbyists want to relax the measures contained in the bill. People familiar with the conversations say they’ve already pushed for various revisions, including easing disclosure requirements.
Coca-Cola is linked to sugar suppliers in the Xinjiang region, while Nike is tied to a Qingdao factory that reportedly employs Uyghur workers. Apple also opposes some of the measures, despite claiming that it sets industry standards for fair labor practices. Its $2 trillion market cap has a supply chain that touches the far western Xinjiang region.
Disclosure forms show that Apple paid Fierce Government Relations $90,000 to lobby on issues including Xinjiang-related legislation in the third quarter.
As noted in the report, all three companies have publicly denied they would allow forced labor in order to keep their suppliers. The Times doubled-down, reporting “lobbying disclosures show that companies have spent heavily to sway Congress on Xinjiang-related legislation, though they reveal nothing about their specific requests.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce declined to comment on lobbying.
These major corporations frequently place themselves at the forefront of social issues and purport to lead the charge for change, but informed readers already know just how hollow their commitment to true social justice is. The priorities of Apple, Nike, and Coca-Cola, in order, are: 1) Money; 2) PR; 3) Human rights/social issues.
Any company that has seen the impact that a China-driven agenda has had on the NBA should think twice before pushing back against this legislation. Far-left politics and social pandering has caused much of the unprecedented tank in NBA ratings, but it’s obedience to China has also been a factor.
LeBron and the NBA thought closing their eyes and bowing to China was smart business, as do Apple and Nike, for now. It may make financial sense, but if the NBA is any indication, opposing the bill will be an eventual regret.