A Chinese sportswear giant and Olympic gear maker, Anta Sports, is buying Xinjiang cotton, “thank you very much.” Cotton harvested from the far west China province is banned from U.S. supply chains on the basis of prison labor violations. But U.S. lawmakers asked last month for Xinjiang cotton not to be part of any Olympic uniforms. Anta will ignore them. The global sportswear giant said long ago they weren’t taking part in Xinjiang sanctions.
Anta’s biggest investors? Vanguard, BlackRock, and other household names of Wall Street own Anta shares in their mutual funds and ETFs.
If Anta rival Nike can’t buy Xinjiang cotton harvested without pay, why can U.S. investors buy shares in a Chinese competitor that can?
The Beijing Winter Olympics got underway this weekend.
See CPA National Security Advisor Robby Smith’s op-ed on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in The Washington Times.
Already, they are the most controversial since the 1936 Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany. And while Nazi comparisons are as old as dirt, for anyone following along it might be worth noting that Jews were excluded from sports in Germany, but two were allowed to compete for propaganda purposes. One of them actually won a medal for fencing. “See? Us Germans aren’t really up to no good,” was the message to the world.
In Beijing’s Winter Olympics, China paraded two Uyghur women onto the world stage to light the Olympic torch on Friday.
“See?” is the message from Beijing’s ruling Communist Party, “we treat our Uyghur Muslims with respect. There is no Uyghur genocide.”
The U.S. State Department under both the Trump and Biden administrations defined the human rights abuses in Xinjiang as genocide against China’s Muslim minority. China says it is all part of its domestic war on terrorism. The prison sites are re-education camps to instill “Xi thought” and Han Chinese sensibilities among Muslim men and women in Xinjiang, China says.
In January 2021, as a result of these actions taking place in Xinjiang, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), under Homeland Security, banned Xinjiang cotton from U.S. supply chains.
But Anta has long said it will not stop using cotton from Xinjiang in its products.
They said it first in the spring of 2021.
Anta is the official Olympics uniform supplier and refuses to say if it uses Xinjiang cotton in them, one month after the Congressional-Executive Commission on China released a letter to the International Olympic Committee about Anta.
“As a starting point to fulfilling its commitment to uphold and respect human rights, and in line with the preservation of human dignity enshrined in the Olympic Charter, the IOC must uphold and respect the human rights of those who made the uniforms on their backs.” – letter to the IOC from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, January 12, 2022.
Anta’s products have not been directly tied to forced labor. Due to the opacity of supply chains in China and the secrecy surrounding forced labor factories, it’s very difficult to determine which products are tainted, which is why the CBP has banned Xinjiang cotton outright. The onus of guilt was going to be placed on the companies.
Anta has no choice but to do business in Xinjiang.
If Anta agreed with Nike to back off from Xinjiang, it would face a state-mandated firestorm calling for boycotts.
Anta’s ongoing purchasing of Xinjiang cotton is both taking a knee for Xi Jinping, and a total snub to Washington policy makers. This is how Washington should see it.
The CBP can ban Xinjiang cotton all it wants. Anta isn’t worried. And Wall Street’s biggest investment firms are fine with them buying it.
Despite all the talk of ESG investing over the years, Vanguard, BlackRock, JP Morgan, State Street, John Hancock and Fidelity are all shareholders of this banned cotton buying sportswear company as of January 31, 2022.
“As Xi Jinping exploits the Olympics to put on a show meant to convince the world China is a normal, diverse, peace-loving country, the titans of Wall Street continue to fund companies aligned with the CCP’s genocide and human rights abuses,” says Michael Stumo, CEO of CPA. “The Biden administration has restrictions on what U.S. tech companies can sell to Chinese tech companies. It has bans on investments in Chinese defense contractors. The Olympic Games present the White House with a perfect opportunity to show they are against Wall Street profiting from investing in egregious, human rights violators. The Biden administration should ban Wall Street from funneling U.S. capital to bad actor Chinese companies and should add them to Treasury’s existing capital markets sanctions list.”
Anta is the third-largest sports brand after Nike and Addidas. They own the Wilson Sports brand.
NBA players like Gordon Hayward of the Charlotte Hornets signed a sponsorship deal with Anta in 2018. It expires this year. Like Hayward, Kevin Looney from the Golden State Warriors also has his own Anta sneaker.
Freestyle skier, Eileen Gu, currently competing in the Olympics, is also sponsored by Anta. She was born in the U.S. but is playing for Team China.