Chairs Ask NBA and NBPA For Stance on Forced Labor and Freedom of Expression

(Washington) The Chairs of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) today released two letters—one to Commissioner Adam Silver of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and one to President C.J. McCollum of the National Association Players Association (NBPA)—raising questions about their respective business operations relating to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and asking them to prohibit the use or sale of NBA-branded gear and garments or NBA game-day shoes made with forced labor and any sportswear from companies that endorse the use of cotton and rayon and other materials from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR)—such as Anta, Li-Ning, and Peak.

The letters come in response to a CECC hearing titled “Corporate Complicity: Subsidizing the PRC’s Human Rights Violations,” held in July 2023. The NBA was one of the businesses discussed in-depth, featuring witness testimony from human rights advocate and former NBA basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom. In Mr. Freedom’s testimony, he exposed the NBA and NBPA’s efforts to silence his criticism of the PRC’s human rights record. He detailed that even though he “paid thousands of dollars to the Players Association every month to protect my rights against the NBA… on this topic, they were on NBA’s side.” The letters released today raise questions about how the NBA and NBPA intend to address the risk of their exporting the PRC’s values of censorship to the United States.

This is the second time the Commission wrote to NBPA on this topic. In 2021, the Commissioners urged the NBPA to raise awareness about genocide and forced labor occurring in the XUAR and its connection to Chinese sportswear companies.  The Chairs were disappointed by the NBPA’s answer at that time and urge a more “fulsome response” this time. 

Signed copies of the letters to the NBA and NBPA can be found in the hyperlinks accordingly.