Congress Asks Olympics Committee To Explain Deals With Chinese Slave Companies

( US lawmakers from the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (USCEC) contacted the International Olympic Committee last week demanding to know why the IOC had made deals with two Chinese apparel companies to provide uniforms for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Both companies source their cotton from slave labor in the Xinjiang province of China.

In late 2020, the US banned cotton imports from Xinjiang, and last year Congress passed a law banning all imports from Xinjiang over its use of slave labor. But Chinese sportswear company Anta Sports and the textile company Hengyuanxiang Group (HYX Group) with whom the IOC has contracted have overt ties to Xinjiang’s slave labor market.

The heads of the USCEC wrote to IOC President Thomas Bach last Wednesday demanding to know the details of the IOC’s relationship with Anta Sports and HYX Group.

The letter, signed by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-MA) and Congressman James McGovern (D-MA) noted the “worrisome possibility” that Olympic personnel and those attending the Beijing Games would be wearing clothing made through slave labor and demanded to know what assurances the IOC may have received that the Olympic apparel would not come from such forced labor.

The HYX Group had allegedly provided a certificate to the IOC that the apparel was not made through forced labor, but Merkley and McGovern are concerned that the certificate is not valid.

The International Olympic Committee signed a deal with Anta in 2017. Anta subsequently became the official sportswear partner of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. In 2019, the IOC signed its deal with HYX Group, commissioning it to manufacture Olympic uniforms.

In their letter, Merkley and McGovern noted that HYX maintains facilities to process cotton in Xinjiang and that Anta has long been a vocal defender of the use of Xinjiang cotton produced by slave labor.

In response to the letter, last Thursday China’s Foreign Ministry defended the companies. Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China of having “no political credibility.” Wang called the accusations of slave labor in Xinjiang a lie and claimed the USCEC’s letter was full of “unfounded remarks.”