US sportswear brand Badger Sports has dropped a Chinese supplier following an investigation into claims of forced labour.
Badger Sports said it will no longer source any product from Hetian Taida or from the region of Xinjiang, amid reports of forced labour within internment camps there.
The company, which supplies US college sports teams, said both an internal inquiry and an independent investigation conducted by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, a non-profit providing certifications for social compliance, had found Hetian Taida’s current operation to be consistent with Badger’s global sourcing policy.
However, the statement continued: “Historical documentation provided by Hetian Taida regarding their prior facility was insufficient to conclude with certainty that it had met Badger’s global sourcing policy.”
The statement continued that as well as no longer sourcing stock from the region, all Hetian Taida stock currently held by Badger Sports will not be shipped to customers.
According to a report by Associated Press, Hetian Taida has a cluster of workshops within the compound walls of an internment camp in Xinjiang, where mainly Muslim detainees are forced to work for little to no pay.
The report said that at least 10 shipping containers of men’s, women's and children’s clothing was shipped to Badger Sports from the Xinjiang region last year. Badger Sports suspended dealings with Hetian Taida following the report in December.
Despite controversy surrounding the internment camps, Chinese authorities insist the centres offer vocational training for minorities to bring them into a “modern, civilised world” and to help eliminate poverty in the area.
Following Badger Sports announcement to stop sourcing from the region, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the decision was based on “wrong information” about the internment camps.
Speaking at a press conference, he said: “China has abolished the re-education through labour system. Xinjiang's vocational skills and education training is totally different from the forced labor alleged by some parties.”
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.