According to congressional staff members, these companies have been publicly condemning forced labor while privately trying to water down bills. And lobbying records show vast spending on weakening the legislation.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act aim to crackdown on human rights abuses in mass detention camps in China's Xinjiang region. The bills would ban the use of products tied to the forced labor and would force companies to report their ties to the Xinjiang region to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Both bills have passed through the U.S. House of Representatives and have the bipartisan support to pass in the Senate.
However, the progressive bills have become the target of multinational companies including Apple, Nike, and Coca-Cola whose supply chains would be affected by a crackdown on slavery in Xinjiang. According to the New York Times, Coca-Cola claims it "strictly prohibits any type of forced labor" in its supply chain. And Nike said it wasn't lobbying against the bill, but rather having "constructive discussions" with congressional staff about how to eliminate forced labor.
Meanwhile, Patagonia actively exited the Xinjiang region earlier this year following concerns about human rights abuses.
1/N@Apple @tim_cook , @Nike, @CocaCola are lobbying against The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.— 巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao) December 3, 2020
Brands like @ZARA @mujiusa support China’s #Uyghur genocide via using XJ cotton.
I create new satire Ad against them. Get for free and expose them: https://t.co/2M8wbPGlPr pic.twitter.com/DPN9fKmpTs
The UN estimates that there are at least one million Uyghur Muslims held in more than 85 mass detention camps in the Xinjiang region, where they are forced into labor and so-called re-education programs. If these companies truly had nothing to hide, they would leave the bills alone.