Lawmakers demand NBA players cut ties with Chinese firms accused of "human slavery"

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Some Republican lawmakers are demanding that NBA players end their endorsement contracts with Chinese sports retailers Anta and Li-Ning, which continue to source cotton from the Xinjiang region, Politico reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. government has warned that businesses with supply chains and investments in Xinjiang — where China has been accused of carrying out a genocide against Uyghur Muslims — run a "high risk" of violating U.S. laws on forced labor.

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State of play: NBA players who have deals with Anta or Li-Ning include the Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler, Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson and former Heat player Dwyane Wade, who has a lifetime endorsement contract with Li-Ning.

What they're saying: "Americans can’t and shouldn’t conduct business with companies and players that profit through human slavery," Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told Politico.

  • "And that includes NBA players — they can’t sign endorsement deals and benefit off slave labor," he added.

  • "If they didn’t know [their corporate sponsor] sourced slave labor cotton from Xinjiang, that’s one thing," Perry said. "But if they do know … they are complicit with slavery."

Yes, but: Congress does not have any power to force players to end those contracts, experts told Politico.

Driving the news: House lawmakers are forming a bipartisan caucus to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its oppression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, Axios' Sarah Mucha reports.

  • Its goal is to "support legislation aimed at addressing the largest coordinated human rights abuse campaign of the 21st century," according to a group release.

Go deeper: First look: Lawmakers form bipartisan Uyghur caucus

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