Multinational companies are calling out injustice everywhere—except in China

The past few months have seen a wave of companies speaking out on social issues and injustice. They’ve flocked to social media to condemn racism in solidarity with the protests against police killings of Black Americans. They’ve pledged to halt advertising on Facebook through July to rebuke the social media giant for its role in enabling hate speech online. Some have pressured the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change its name, which they call disrespectful to indigenous Americans.

But there’s an escalating human rights crisis where companies have remained silent. Despite China’s recent move to assert its authority over Hong Kong, along with the substantial evidence that China has pressed much of its Uighur ethnic minority into detention camps where they’re subject to forced labor, companies have generally not criticized China publicly. The situation shows the limits of what businesses will risk in the name of values.

“They are inconsistent,” said Surya Deva, associate professor of law at City University of Hong Kong and a member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. “This unprincipled approach, in my view, is problematic.”

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