The Chinese manufacturer of the NBA's official game balls is owned by a company accused of using Uyghur slave labor, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
Chinese-owned Anta Sports acquired Amer Sports and its subsidiaries, including sporting goods maker Wilson, in 2019. The NBA signed a deal with Wilson to provide game balls for the upcoming season, and has sold Anta brand shoes on its website, the Free Beacon reported.
The bipartisan Congressional Executive Commission on China recently called on the NBA to sever ties with Anta and other Chinese apparel companies over their use of labor from Xinjiang, where the communist government has forced more than one million Uyghurs into internment camps.
Many NBA players have been outspoken about social injustice in the U.S., but the league mostly has been quiet regarding China's alleged use of slave labor and its crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.
Anta, also the official uniform maker for the Olympics, and other companies have sneaker endorsement deals with more than a dozen NBA players, the Free Beacon said. The corporation withdrew earlier this year from a group called the Better Cotton Initiative, which called on companies to end the use of cotton from Xinjiang.
The Congressional Executive Commission said use of cotton from Xinjiang likely makes Anta and other companies "complicit in the use of forced labor."
"We believe that commercial relationships with companies that source cotton in Xinjiang create reputational risks for NBA players and the NBA itself," the commission said in a June 1 letter to the NBA players' union.
In November 2019, Anta sided with the Chinese communist government after NBA executive Daryl Morey praised pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The company threatened to end endorsement deals with NBA players and claimed it "opposes any action that harms China's interests," Reuters reported.
Chinese telecom company Tencent also refused to broadcast some NBA games over Morey's comments. In March 2019, Tencent joined Anta in the group that purchased Amer Sports.
Wilson also makes game balls for the NFL and NCAA basketball. The Free Beacon said the company's basketballs are made in China, though it's unclear whether materials from Xinjiang are used.
The NBA has considered China an important market for growth. More than 640 million Chinese viewed NBA content during the 2018 season, the league has said.
"We have a presence in China, which is a very fragmented market [for basketball sales] and a big opportunity for us," Wilson Vice President/General Manager of Team Sports Kevin Murphy said after the deal with the NBA was struck in 2019.
"Our commitment to growing the game of basketball on the global stage is at the heart of Wilson and our new partnership with the NBA."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.