American government officials raise concern over labor used in production of Olympic merchandise

Forced labor production in the Xinjiang region of China is raising concern for U.S. congressional committee members

This photo taken on October 14, 2018 shows farmers picking cotton in a field in Hami in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.
This photo taken on October 14, 2018 shows farmers picking cotton in a field in Hami in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.

U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday sent a letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach asking him to justify the IOC’s ties with Chinese companies that use cotton produced in the Xinjiang region of China.

The congressional commission on China noted that “there is a worrisome possibility that IOC personnel or others attending the 2022 Olympic Games will be wearing clothing contaminated by forced labor.”

Cotton from the Xinjiang region has been “synonymous with forced labor and the systematic repression that takes place there,” the letter said. As a result the Biden administration has recently signed a bill banning all cotton imports from the area unless there is clear evidence that forced labor was not used in manufacturing.

FILE PHOTO: A farmer picks cotton on a farm on the outskirts of Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A farmer picks cotton on a farm on the outskirts of Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA/File Photo

Reports allege millions of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in reeducation camps and forced to work in factories in Xinjiang. Mounting evidence has indicated the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are being employed under conditions of forced labor in factories supplying major global companies, according to human rights groups.

Anta Sports and HYX Group, are the two companies in question that have been contracted to outfit many Olympic athletes and IOC officials.

The letter, signed by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), co-chair Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA), as well as Christopher Smith (R-NJ) specifically asked the IOC to present ‘certificates of origin’ and to articulate publicly in affirming that the Beijing Games merchandise will be free and clear from any forced labor production.

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