Bipartisan Commission Asks NBA to Ban Branded Merchandise Made with Chinese Cotton
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a bipartisan Congressional commission, sent a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver to ask that the league stop using and selling apparel and footwear made using forced labor in China.
The issue of Chinese cotton has been in the news for years, as more and more consumers worldwide are becoming aware of the treatment of the Uyghur ethnic group in the country's Xinjiang region, which is one of the country's main cotton hubs.
In the letter sent to Silver, the group asked him to meet with various groups "to learn about the sad reality of genocide," according to ESPN. They also asked Silver and the NBA to ban NBA-branded gear made using forced labor in China and prohibit players from wearing shoes made by companies using Xinjiang cotton during games.
"NBA players should not be subsidizing genocide by endorsing or wearing shoes and gear from Chinese sportswear companies complicit in forced labor," Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the commission's chair and co-chair, wrote, according to ESPN.
This would be a big move for the NBA, but not unprecedented in the world of sports.
In 2022 a coalition of more than 400 human rights groups pressured the IOC over merchandise for the Beijing Olympics allegedly using forced labor manufacturing.
Last June, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act took effect, which placed strict enforcement on imported cotton and textiles.
Whether Silver and the NBA decide to listen to the commission and shake up its merchandise production remains to be seen. But, a major sports league like the NBA doing so would most likely attract other leagues to do the same.