Two Chinese TV Stars Cut Ties with Nike over Xinjiang Comments

Two Chinese TV stars decided to sever their ties with Nike over the sportswear manufacturing giant’s comments regarding the controversial violation of human rights and forced labor in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

Nike is only one of the Western businesses and companies that are currently facing backlash in China for registering their concerns over the alleged violation of human rights of the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.

“We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR),” the statement said. “Nike does not source products from the XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region.”

The anger of Chinese netizens with Nike became one of the most trending topics on the country’s social media platform Weibo on Thursday.

Wang Yibo, a well-known 23-year-old Chinese actor, decided to terminate his contract as a representative for the sportswear brand in response to its statement, his agency said in a post on Weibo on Thursday.

“I firmly oppose any act to smear China,” the Chinese idol said in a statement.

Tan Songyun, a Chinese actress also known as “Seven”, also announced that she is in the process of terminating her contract with Nike.

In a statement, Tan’s manager said the actress “resolutely opposes any bad behavior of smearing and making rumors about China.”

Right groups have been claiming that about one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been kept in camps in Xinjiang. 

Authorities also claim that women in the region were forced to sterilize and people are being forced to do labor.

China has been denying the accusations of human rights violations, saying that the labor camps are actually training programs and work schemes that aim to put an end to extremism and offer job opportunities to the less privileged.

“Chinese people will not allow some foreigners to eat China’s rice while smashing its bowls,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a press release. “The Chinese market is here … we open our hearts to welcome foreign companies. But we oppose malicious attacks on China based on rumors and lies, and harm to China’s interests.”

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