US company investigating report Chinese detainees are making products

A U.S. company is investigating after an Associated Press report that Muslim detainees in Chinese internment camps are making some of its products.

The AP found North Carolina-based Badger Sportswear has received ongoing shipments from a factory located in a Chinese internment camp where ethnic minorities are forced to work and live. These imports are illegal because they are the product of forced labor, which the U.S. and the United Nations call a form of modern-day slavery, according to the AP.


U.S. Badger CEO John Anton on Sunday told the AP that the company is investigating the shipments and will source sportswear from other locations in the meantime.

Badger Sportswear did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment. Neither did CCMP Capital, an investment firm that acquired Badger Sportswear in 2016.

The Chinese government two years ago launched a "reeducation" campaign aimed at Muslim Uighur and Kazakh ethnic minorities. As part of the campaign, Chinese authorities have detained thousands in internment camps, where many are forced to perform menial labor. 

China is facing intensifying international pressure over the camps, which have been called a human rights abuse. 

One internment camp in Hotan, a city located in Xinjiang, is the site of ten workshops where detainees make clothes for Hetian Taida Apparel, according to the AP. 

The AP has observed at least 10 shipment containers from that camp sent to Badger Sportswear in North Carolina. The shipments reportedly contained athletic gear for men, women and children. 

Badger Sportswear provides athletic gear for sports teams across the U.S., including high school teams. The AP also found Badger products for sale at schools including Texas A&M, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Northern Iowa and Bates College.

Anton on Sunday told the AP that Badger Sportswear has sourced products from an affiliate of Hetian Taida for years, adding that one of its affiliates opened a new factory in western China a year ago. 

Badger Sportswear officials have visited the factory, Anton told the AP.

“We will voluntarily halt sourcing and will move production elsewhere while we investigate the matters raised,” Anton said.