White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday indicated the Biden administration was prepared to stand up to China’s efforts to “weaponize” private companies’ dependence on its markets in order to censor free speech.
“American consumers and consumers everywhere deserve to know that their goods or the goods they are buying are not made with forced labor and many companies are standing up for consumers rights,” Psaki said. “The international community in our view should oppose China's weaponizing of private companies dependence on its markets to stifle free expression and inhibit ethical business practices.”
When it came to specific actions the administration could take to promote ethical business practices and to protect companies, Psaki said the White House can work with the international community and the private sector.
Several companies have invoked the wrath of the Communist regime.
Nike came under fire for a comment it made raising concerns about forced labor practices in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). It reassured customers that it does not source textiles or products from the region, like cotton.
The Nike comments were among the trending topics on China’s Weibo – a state-owned version of Twitter, as reported by Reuters earlier this week.
The wire service also reported that a popular Chinese actor, Wang Yibo, terminated a contract with the athletic apparel giant over the social media storm.
Meanwhile, retailer H&M has been pulled from major e-Commerce stores in China for similar concerns the company made public in September about allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang. The statement was recently recirculated in China, and there are calls for boycotts.
The Chinese government is characterizing companies' decisions to avoid using cotton sourced from the region as an effort to undermine its economy.