Rubio Joins Bicameral Letter Asking Customs to Bar Imports from Companies Endorsing Use of Xinjiang Cotton as New NBA Season Begins
Oct 20 2021
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) along with Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), the leadership of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), sent a letter to Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Troy Miller seeking information on whether CBP has stopped imports from companies that have publicly endorsed the use of cotton from Xinjiang and that have advertised its use in their products.
Of particular concern for the legislators is the continued availability of products from the Chinese sportswear companies Anta, Peak, and Li-Ning, which have high-profile endorsements from NBA players. The public endorsement of the use of cotton from the XUAR by these companies “warrants special attention from CBP, as it raises specific concerns about the supply chains of these companies.”
Rubio is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and Ranking Minority member of the CECC.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Acting Commissioner Miller:
We write to request that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provide us with detailed information about enforcement of the January 2021 Withhold Release Order (WRO) on cotton imports from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). We are particularly interested in whether CBP has stopped imports from companies that have publicly endorsed the use of cotton from the XUAR and have advertised its use in their products. A list of the companies we have identified thus far is included.
If specific information about this latter request is not readily available in an aggregated form, we ask that you enforce the existing WRO with special attention to these companies or issue an additional WRO for the imports of any company endorsing the use of XUAR cotton.
As a new National Basketball Association (NBA) season begins this week, we are very concerned about the sportswear companies Anta, Peak, and Li-Ning, which have high-profile endorsements from NBA players. We do not want sports stars or other celebrity influencers to knowingly or unwittingly endorse goods made with forced labor or for U.S. consumers to buy these products, which remain available to purchase through Amazon.com and other direct-to-consumer platforms online.
The U.S. Department of State has determined that the systematic use of forced labor in the XUAR is a crime against humanity. The WROs issued by CBP over the past several years are an important step in ensuring that Americans are not complicit in the use of forced labor or in helping to fund the Chinese government’s genocide and crimes against humanity in the XUAR. We remain committed to assisting CBP in enforcing these measures consistently and aggressively, including through expanded use of forensic country-of-origin testing and other means, and hope to work with you to ensure CBP has the resources it needs to protect American markets and supply chains from being tainted by the products of forced labor. Companies’ public endorsement of the use of cotton from the XUAR, and their advertised use of cotton from the XUAR in their products, warrants special attention from CBP, as it raises specific concerns about the supply chains of these companies.
We also remain committed to passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in Congress. The U.S. Senate passed the bill unanimously in July 2021, and a version of this bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020. The effort to consistently enforce laws prohibiting imports made with forced labor is in the economic interests of U.S. workers and consumers and the interests of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China who face genocide and crimes against humanity.
We look forward to working with you. We await your response to our inquiries.