Nike boss defends firm’s business in China Published 25 June

image copyright Getty Images image caption Nike was recently hit by a backlash over statements about Xinjiang

The boss of Nike has made a robust defence of the firm’s business in China after facing a consumer boycott there.

Chief executive John Donahoe said “Nike is a brand that is of China and for China” in response to a question about competition from Chinese brands.

Mr Donahoe was speaking during a call with Wall Street analysts about Nike’s latest earnings report.

The comments come after the sportswear giant was recently hit by a backlash over statements about Xinjiang.

Mr Donahoe made the comments during a discussion on Nike’s fourth quarter earnings, which showed revenues had doubled to a better-than-expected $12.3bn (£8.8bn) for the three months to the end of March.

That helped it bounce back to a $1.5bn profit, from a $790m loss during the depths of the pandemic a year earlier.

The figures also showed that revenue in China rose to more than $1.9bn, but missed Wall Street expectations of $2.2bn.

Mr Donahoe said he remained confident that China would continue to be a fast-growing market for the company due to its many years of investment there.

“We’ve always taken a long term view. We’ve been in China for over 40 years,” he said.

“Phil [Knight] invested significant time and energy in China in the early days and today we’re the largest sport brand there,” he said in reference to Nike’s co-founder and former chief executive who first saw the potential for growth in the country.

Nike did not immediately respond to a BBC request for further comment.

The company’s shares rose by more than 14% during after-hours trade in New York.

Why was Nike boycotted in China?

Several Western brands, including Nike and Swedish fashion retailer H&M, recently faced a backlash from Chinese shoppers after the firms expressed concerns about the alleged use of Uyghur forced labour in cotton production.

In March, a group of Western countries imposed sanctions on officials in China over rights abuses against the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority group.

The sanctions were introduced as a coordinated effort by the European Union, UK, US and Canada.

In December, the BBC published an investigation based on new research showing China was forcing hundreds of thousands of minorities including Uyghurs into manual labour in Xinjiang’s cotton fields.

What is Xinjiang and who are the Uyghurs?

Xinjiang, China’s biggest region, produces about a fifth of the world’s cotton. An autonomous region in theory, in reality it faces restrictions which have only increased in recent years

Millions of China’s Uyghurs, a Muslim minority that sees itself as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations, live in Xinjiang

In recent decades, mass migration of Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority) to Xinjiang has fuelled tensions with Uyghurs which has at points flared into deadly violence

This has resulted in a massive security crackdown and an extensive state surveillance programme, which critics say violate Uyghur human rights. China says such measures are necessary to combat separatism and terrorism

Uyghurs have been detained at camps where allegations of torture, forced labour and sexual abuse have emerged. China has denied these claims saying the camps are “re-education” facilities aimed at lifting Uyghurs out of poverty

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