Nike CEO John Donahoe appeared to say Thursday that he does not comment on China’s alleged human rights abuses because China is “a very important market for us.”
“We think sport is a global phenomenon, an important phenomenon. And so we participate in sport all over the world, including China. China is a very important market for us,” Donahoe told CNBC after being asked why Nike hasn’t been “more vocal as a company around some of the human rights abuses in China when you have been so out front on societal and social issues here in the U.S.”
“We take a very long-term view in China. We’re continuing to invest in China and we will continue to invest in China while also operating a very responsible global supply chain.”
— CNBC’s Closing Bell (@CNBCClosingBell) August 5, 2021
“We are the largest sports brand there, and we are a brand of China and for China,” he said in an earnings call.
“And the biggest asset we have in China is the consumer equity. Consumers feel a strong, deep connection to the Nike, Jordan and Converse brands in China. And it’s real.”
He buckled down on his comments Thursday, saying that consumers all around the world feel that Nike is a “brand of their market for them.”
“And that’s one of the reasons Nike has been so globally successful,” Donahoe told CNBC.
“We operate very aligned with our values, always have been, always will, including throughout our entire supply chain. And so this is simply part of the challenges of operating a global brand in global markets. And we have navigated that very well for 50 years and we will continue to do that.”
In July, the Senate passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which would prohibit importing broad categories of certain goods made with the use of Chinese slave labor, according to The New York Times.
It is expected to get strong support in the House, and Democratic and Republican aides pointed out a similar measure was approved last year, the outlet reported.
However, corporations like Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola have lobbied for the legislation to be watered down, saying that while they condemn the atrocities in Xinjiang, the act’s could “wreak havoc” on certain supply chains, the Times reported.
Nike drew backlash from China in March after it expressed concern over reports of forced labor in the Xinjiang region and said it does not use “textiles or spun yarn from the region.”
Chinese consumers boycotted Nike and the Chinese government said the company’s decision would undermine China’s economy.
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