March 16, 2022
The U.S. customs agency said it was detaining imported merchandise from Chinese sports brand Li-Ning after an internal investigation found that the goods were made with North Korean labor.
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) prohibits the imports of goods made in North Korea or by North Korean citizens anywhere in the world “unless clear and convincing evidence is provided that such goods were not made with forced labor,” according to a press release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
If Li-Ning cannot provide evidence that the goods were not made with “convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor” within 30 days, then the goods will be subject to seizure and forfeiture.
No further information on the merchandise or the investigation was provided.
Former Chinese Olympic gymnast Li Ning founded her brand of the same name in 1989 and it has since become one of China’s most prominent athletic shoe and clothing brands. The company has a market cap of about 133.3 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $17 billion, according to CNN Business.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he was not aware of that “specific situation” when asked by The Associated Press about the matter.
“China is firmly opposed to any form of long-arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions,” Zhao reportedly said at a briefing.
The company, which is based in Beijing, is among a group of Chinese and foreign shoe and clothing brands that have been accused of using materials and labor from China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, according to the AP. The outlet noted that the ruling Communist Party is accused of detaining Muslim ethnic minorities, engaging in forced abortions and more.
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund also announced this month that it sold Li-Ning shares “due to unacceptable risk that the company contributes to serious human rights violations.”