The U.S. is investigating Adidas, a German company, for violating an American law.
The House Committee on the Chinese Communist Party passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in 2021. Now they say that Adidas may be in violation of that act and would like them to respond to inquiries about how it sources materials.
This puts Adidas in the crosshairs. The brand has been trying to win back “the hearts and minds” of Chinese customers. The Financial Times reports that “Adidas has experienced a brutal fall from grace in China since 2019 as protracted lockdowns hit sales, exacerbated by a backlash against western brands over their refusal to buy Xinjiang cotton, which human rights activists say involves forced labour.”
The “forced labour camps” are prisoner rehabilitation work programs. Many factory jobs in this region are not forced but simply manufacturing jobs that people take voluntarily to support their families. Even the United Nations could not prove their existence. With this pressure on Adidas, the U.S. is asking a foreign company to prove a negative. They did the same thing with Volkswagen. The CEO visited these so-called labor camps and saw no evidence of forced labour. Instead, he concluded that the factory’s “presence is positive for the local population.”