Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Olympic uniform supplier rebuffs concerns over Xinjiang cotton

Chinese sports retailer Anta is continuing to use Xinjiang cotton, rebuffing international scrutiny of forced labor in the Xinjiang cotton industry as the Chinese government denies allegations of human rights violations there.

Why it matters: Anta is the official Olympics uniform supplier and refuses to say if it uses Xinjiang cotton in them. Its products have not been directly tied to forced labor. Due to the opacity of supply chains in China and the secrecy surrounding forced labor factories, it's very difficult to determine which products are tainted.

  • But if they are, it further signals that China's leaders intend to host the 2022 Winter Olympics on their own terms.

Context: The Chinese government has implemented a campaign of forced assimilation and genocide in its northwest region of Xinjiang, putting more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities into mass internment camps and conscripting detainees to work in factories and agricultural production.

  • The cotton and textile industries in Xinjiang are especially affected. Much of China's cotton comes from Xinjiang; and since Chinese factories are deeply integrated with global supply chains, numerous multinational companies including Nike, Asics, H&M, and Apple have found themselves facing reports of forced labor in their supply chains.

Details: In October 2019, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) announced Anta would supply uniforms, shoes and accessories for the Tokyo Olympics, the Beijing Olympics, and several other events — becoming the first Chinese company to supply sportswear for IOC members and staff.

  • That same month, Anta announced it had also become the first Chinese company to join the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), an international cotton watchdog organization with operations in Xinjiang.
  • In 2020, BCI announced it was ceasing operations in Xinjiang because it couldn't engage ethically there. After Chinese state media criticized BCI's actions in March 2021, Anta announced it would withdraw from the organization.
  • Amid a recent Chinese state-fanned consumer backlash against foreign companies that had publicly disavowed the use of Xinjiang cotton, Anta said that it used Xinjiang cotton and would continue to do so.

What they're saying: "We have always bought and used cotton produced in China, including Xinjiang cotton, and in the future we will continue to do so,” Anta said in a statement in late March.

  • Anta did not respond to multiple emailed requests for comment, and did not reply when asked if they use Xinjiang cotton in Olympic uniforms.
  • An IOC spokesperson tells Axios, "For our uniforms in Tokyo, no cotton was used and we have been working closely with Anta to monitor the conditions in the factories producing our goods. The IOC is committed to continue its due diligence efforts with Anta."

Background: Anta, founded in 1991, has become one of China's top sports retailers in recent years through a series of shrewd moves.

  • It broke into the NBA by signing stars Klay Thompson and Gordon Hayward, among others, to signature deals.
  • It also acquired Japanese ski brand Descente (2016), South Korean outdoors brand Kolon Sport (2017) and Finnish sporting goods company Amer Sports (2019), helping it expand globally without needing to introduce foreign consumers to a relatively unknown Chinese brand.

The state of play: Since last month, Anta's stock has risen 21% as Chinese consumers angrily flee brands like Nike and Adidas over their refusal to use Xinjiang's cotton.

  • Anta has used nationalism as a marketing strategy for years now, so doubling down on the cotton controversy by pulling out of the BCI was par for the course as they continue trying to eat into competitors' market share.

The big picture: By fanning nationalism and harnessing the power of its massive consumer markets to punish companies that support basic human rights and reward those who instead support the party's bottom lines, the Chinese Communist Party has created an unprecedented challenge to global human rights norms.

  • Beijing has clearly communicated the economic costs it will impose on any country or company that takes a stand against China's hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Go deeper: The U.S. has the tools to fight Uyghur forced labor

House Republicans remove Liz Cheney from leadership over Trump opposition

House Republicans voted Wednesday to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as conference chair, capping months of growing backlash over her criticisms of former President Trump, according to two sources in the room.

Why it matters: The stunning removal of the No. 3 House Republican over her condemnation of Trump's election lies reflects the influence the former president still retains over the GOP. It's the most significant turning point in an internal party feud that is unlikely to subside any time soon.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden names third slate of judicial nominees

President Biden on Wednesday announced a new slate of nominations for federal judges, with the president now having put forward 20 names to fill judicial vacancies.

Why it matters: The administration described the most recent picks as an embodiment of "the diversity of our nation," and said that Biden is continuing a trend of announcing judicial nominees at a record pace.

Keep reading... Show less

Consumer prices jumped 4.2% in April compared to last year

The latest gauge on inflation released Wednesday morning showed that prices rose 4.2% over last year, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Why it matters: The gains were highest since September 2008. Prices jumped significantly compared to the start of the pandemic last year, when lockdowns drove down demand.

Keep reading... Show less

What China's population woes mean for the rest of the world

China released its censusreport on Tuesday, showing that the number of births in the country last year dropped 18% from 2019. And China isn't alone — populations have been stagnating globally for decades, including in the U.S.

Why it matters: China has long relied on its large population — the biggest in the world — as a core engine for economic growth. The way that it, and officials across the globe, deal with changing demographics will lead to shifts in the economy and geopolitics.

Keep reading... Show less

Inside Liz Cheney's plans to continue fighting for soul of GOP after leadership ouster

As she faces a voteto be thrown out of House Republican leadership, Rep. Liz Cheney has told associates she doesn’t plan on going anywhere — and plans to run for re-election.

What to watch: In the meantime,as she sees it, she will aggressively pursue a fight for the soul of the Republican Party, after an expected vote to strip her of her post as GOP conference chair, the party's No. 3 House post.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden plans to send envoy as Israel and Hamas escalate toward war

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is considering plans to dispatch a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts, five Israeli officials and Western diplomats tell me.

Driving the news: The fighting intensified overnight, with Hamas and other militants firing a second barrage of over 100 rockets toward Tel Aviv and other nearby cities, and Israel continuing its air campaign in the Gaza Strip by destroying high-rise buildings, Hamas facilities and rocket units.

Keep reading... Show less

Swing-voter focus group says ousting Liz Cheney is a mistake

As House Republicans meet to oust Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership post for criticizing Donald Trump, swing voters in Axios' latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups hold a near-unanimous view that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his caucus are making a mistake.

The big picture: Nine of 14 voters said they could vote for a Republican for U.S. House or Senate races next year. All but one ruled out backing any candidate who clings to the former president's lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Keep reading... Show less

Employees grapple with re-entry anxiety as jobs call them back

Pandemic-related anxieties are entering a new phaseas more employers start to call vaccinated workers back into their offices.

Why it matters: Some employees simply don't want to go back to the office; some are desperate to. Some are struggling to rearrange their routines yet again; some don't have that flexibility. And everyone — employers and employees alike — is figuring out on the fly how to make it work.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories