Following a controversy earlier this year over concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) human rights abuses, Nike CEO John Donahoe declared the sportswear apparel company a “brand of China and for China” this week.

Nike issued a statement in March that showed worry about claims of forced labor camps in the Xinjiang area, although Nike stated that it does not obtain supplies or products from that region of the country. However, supply lines are so convoluted that it’s unlikely that Nike can ensure that part of its cotton does not come from forced labor.

“Nike is committed to ethical and responsible manufacturing, and we uphold international labor standards,” the company said in a statement in March. “We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). 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.”

However, a BBC investigation in December revealed evidence that thousands of Uyghurs and other minorities were forced to pick cotton in Xinjiang’s fields.

As Nike’s market in China expands, it raises questions about how far the company will go to maintain its financial foothold and expand its potential there. Nike’s tardy response to China’s mistreatment of low-wage workers, mostly from the Uighur Muslim minority, demonstrates a desire to submit to the government to stay profitable.

Donahoe explained during an earnings call this week that Nike had a long-term view of its operations in China, where it had been active for over four decades.

“And the biggest asset we have in China is the consumer equity,” Donahoe said. “Consumers feel its strong deep connection to the NIKE, Jordan, and Converse brands in China, and it’s real. I saw that in my first week there, can’t wait to get back there, and it’s strong. And that’s brought to life on streets all over China through the over—7,000 monobrand stores we have in China. So, we have a strong consumer franchise in China, and they feel very connected to our brand.”

The CEO’s comments came amid charges that Nike, Disney, and other American businesses with solid Chinese operations have accommodated and disregarded the CCP’s human rights abuses.

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