Woke corporations don’t let principles interfere with profits
When woke and broke conflict, woke will lose every time
Being woke doesn’t mean you’re ready to abandon the cheap labor that contributes to profits. The Uyghurs of China are finding that out, as major American corporations like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple are banding together in an attempt to water down legislation in Congress that would ban the importation of products built in China with forced labor. Costco and Patagonia are among the corporations reportedly lobbying against the legislation, but the entire list of companies opposed is not available.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act imposes restrictions related to China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region, including by prohibiting certain imports from Xinjiang and imposing sanctions on those responsible for human rights violations there. Goods manufactured or produced in Xinjiang would not be entitled to entry into the United States unless Customs and Border Protection determined that the goods were not manufactured by convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor under penal sanctions, and reports such a determination to Congress and to the public.
Although all the corporations claim they actually support the legislation, they are lobbying to weaken the impact of the Act on their supply chains, many of which are located within or near the Chinese province of Xinjiang, where millions of Uyghurs are imprisoned in re-education camps and used a forced labor in local factories, many of which supply components for Apple, among others.
In September, Disney faced a backlash when the closing credits of its release of the movie *Mulan* thanked agencies in Xinjiang for their assistance in the production. The film’s lead actress, Liu Yifei, had expressed support for police crackdowns in Hong Kong, prompting threats on social media of a boycott. Anger increased after critics spotted a Xinjiang propaganda ministry and a security service in Turpan, where over a million Uyghurs are held, among the agencies receiving acknowledgement.
To its credit, Apple has moved some of its supply chain to Vietnam, though the Chinese company Foxconn continues there as an Apple supplier. Disconnecting from the Chinese supply chain is proving difficult.
In October, 2019, the National Basketball Association found itself in hot water when it was learned of its connection to a basketball academy in Xinjiang. Houston Rockets coach Daryl Morey tweeted a picture that said "Fight For Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong" on October 4th, which incensed the Chinese to the point of banning televised NBA games in China, costing the NBA hundreds of millions of dollars. The NBA announced it ended its association with the basketball academy in July. Morey stepped down this month and is reported in talks to join the Philadelphia 76ers. Decide for yourself whether he jumped or was pushed.
It’s not unusual for companies to try and soften the impact of pending legislation on their operations. Bills are written by legislators often with little direct knowledge of the businesses their legislation will affect. When it comes to the conflict between woke and broke, though, woke will lose every time.