On March 25, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters: “The Chinese people wouldn’t allow foreigners to reap benefits in China on the one hand and smear China on the other.” He added, in reference to the widely alleged use of oppressed Muslim Uighurs as slave labor: “Anyone with some sense would see it a good thing to provide more job opportunities to the people including ethnic minority groups, because that will help improve their livelihood.”
Last week, the other $100 sneaker dropped. Shoe apparel goliath Nike declared its unswerving loyalty to communist China. “Nike is a brand that is of China and for China,” CEO John Donahoe said during a call with Wall Street analysts.
‘We Love China’
As the NBA so dramatically demonstrated over the past couple of years and Nike is now repeating, major corporations are determined not to allow ethical concerns to get in the way of doing profitable business with the Asian communist superpower.
Nike is responding in the same way the NBA did in 2019 when China became gravely offended at a team general manager’s tweet supporting freedom protesters in Hong Kong.
Then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s bad business decision spurred the franchise to trot out its biggest superstar to grovel at China’s feet. “We apologize,” James Harden said. “You know, we love China. We love playing there … they show us the most important love.”
Nike CEO Donahoe’s knee-bend comes on the heels of China taking offense at the company’s attempts to distance itself from the tyrannical regime’s use of Uighur slave labor. On March 24, Nike released a statement that read:
“Nike is committed to ethical and responsible manufacturing and we uphold international labor standards. We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Nike does not source products from the XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region.”
This was taken as a monumental insult in China, and the rigidly structured nation responded accordingly. ”Nike has seen its apps scrubbed from the store of telecom giant Huawei, had two popular Chinese actors announce they were cutting ties, and been the target of calls for a boycott on Chinese social media, where users may know little of the forced-labor reports from Xinjiang,” the website Quartz reported in March.
The pattern seems clear. American-based multinational corporations keenly seek the public relations benefit of not appearing to be in bed with CCP tyranny yet, when push comes to shove, are quick to throw all reputational concerns aside to hastily make amends with the despotic rulers of a market they cannot do without.
Congress has noticed.
Not Just Hoops and Sneakers
Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo June 27 that the manipulation of U.S. corporations by China amounts to a national security threat. Nunes mentioned high-profile examples such as the NBA and Nike as far from outliers. Similar behavior is affecting sensitive businesses as well.
“But it’s not just the things you have heard about, like sports and entertainment,” Nunes said. “There’s also sectors of the economy like technology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals. So we’re going to be looking. We’re going to start with about a dozen U.S. entities that we’re going to investigate.”
“How are you going to convince these global companies that doing business and rolling over for the Chinese Communist Party, sharing information that is proprietary, is against U.S. national security interests, while they’re making so much money there?” Bartiromo asked the congressman. “They want to sell all their wares to 1.4 billion people. They see this as an enormous growth story, Devin.”
“Well, look, the way I view the Nike CEO, quite frankly, Maria, is that at least he’s being honest, right?” Nunes replied, adding:
“At least he’s being honest. And I say that only somewhat sarcastically. How about all these other companies that are sneaking around? Like you mentioned, these financial companies that are making investments, how much money is going from – on pension, U.S. pension funds, teachers’ pension funds that are being invested into Chinese companies that are using that access to gain and get a hold of the United States’ technology, for example?”
The NBA and Nike may grab headlines with their shameless cozying to China, but Nunes sees reason to believe they are just the tip of the iceberg in the U.S. corporate tilt to the Red Colossus.
“So the Congress has never looked down at the U.S. entity level,” Nunes continued. “I think this is a really important investigation. It’s something we have been building to for a long time. And I think it’s going to be fairly illuminating for the American people.”
Americans can only hope Nunes and his colleagues follow through. After all, it’s been three years since the story first broke, and we’re still waiting for an honest, open, and thorough public investigation into the Chinese spy who served on the personal staff of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for 20 years while her husband conducted lucrative business dealings with that nation.
The question must be asked: Just how clean are the hands of those on Capitol Hill who would probe corporate America on canoodling with Chinese communism?
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.