The United States is banning the import of products by Chinese sportswear company Li-Ning over accusations of North Korean forced labor, Customs and Border Protection announced. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
March 16 (UPI) -- The United States will detain merchandise from Chinese sportswear and sports equipment giant Li-Ning at all ports of entry due to the company's use of North Korean labor, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
The action went into effect this week and was the result of an investigation into the supply chain of the Beijing-based company, the CBP announced on Tuesday.
Li-Ning was founded in 1990 by the Chinese champion gymnast of the same name and is one of the country's most successful home-grown apparel brands. In 2020 the company recorded revenues of $2.2 billion.
Customs officials are employing a law targeting North Korea called the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which "prohibits the entry of goods, wares and articles mined, produced or manufactured wholly or in part by North Korean nationals or North Korean citizens," CBP said in a statement.
"[The act] is yet another tool in CBP's trade enforcement arsenal that allows us to uphold the fundamental value of human dignity and to ensure the goods that enter the United States are free from forced labor," CBP Office of Trade executive assistant commissioner AnnMarie Highsmith said.
The move is Washington's latest trade action against Beijing over charges of forced labor. In December, the United States passed a law that bans imports from China's Xinjiang region, where researchers say at least 1 million predominantly Muslim Uighurs have been subject to abuses that include torture, forced sterilization and forced labor.
Last year, Li-Ning defended its use of cotton from Xinjiang after Western brands expressed concern over human rights abuses in the region.
Under the CBP action, goods from Li-Ning will not be allowed to enter the United States unless the importer can provide "clear and convincing evidence that their merchandise was not produced with convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor," the CBP statement said.
Li-Ning has a presence in the United States primarily through its marketing ties with the National Basketball Association and sponsorship deals with stars including Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade and CJ McCollum.