House Democrats shot down a GOP motion earlier this month that sought to bar corporate cooperation with Chinese slave labor.
The Motion to Recommit proposed by Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr amending a Democrat bill on corporate disclosure would have required businesses to report to the Treasury Department if they discover a supplier or other business partner was found using forced labor.
Two-hundred and seventeen Democrats rejected the measure and the amendment failed. A look at their corporate donors might reveal why.
Slave Labor Profits to Campaign Coffers
In March last year, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published a report credibly accusing 82 major brands of profiting, either directly or indirectly, from Chinese slave labor by minority Uyghur workers from the northern Xinjiang province. According to the report, investigators estimate more than 80,000 Uyghurs were taken from their native provinces to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, with thousands more sent straight to concentration camps.
Using open-source Chinese-language documents, satellite imagery, academic research, and on-the-ground reporting, ASPI linked 82 brands with forced labor operations among 27 factories across nine Chinese provinces. A Federalist analysis drawing on financial disclosure reports published in OpenSecrets found at least 44 of the 80 companies named made U.S. campaign contributions in last year’s election cycle.
A vast majority went to Democrats, who raked in three-quarters of all federal donations from companies credibly accused of harnessing Chinese slave labor, while less than 12 percent flowed to Republicans. Of the nearly $40 million that went to congressional candidates between the two major parties, Democrats took home more than 85 percent, as opposed to Republicans, who received less than 15.
Meanwhile, 39 out of the 42 companies that made donations gave more than half to Democrats, with nearly a dozen skyrocketing contributions in last fall’s contest compared to previous cycles. Apple and Nike, for example, which deployed high-powered Washington lobbyists to fight the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act barring importing products from Chinese slave labor, each spiked their donations to Democrats by more than 400 percent in a year Republicans embraced a tough stance on China.
The chart from OpenSecrets below outlines Apple’s contributions to federal candidates, showing the company’s affiliates gave upwards of $7.5 million to Democrats in 2020 as opposed to less than $2 million in 2018.