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Badger Sport Drops Chinese Factory Accused of Using Forced Labor

Badger Sport has cut ties with Hetian Taida Apparel Co., a Chinese factory that had been the target of accusations and investigations over using forced labor in its facility.

When reports first surfaced through reporting by the Associated Press that Hetian Taida Apparel, located in Xinjiang in northwestern China, was using forced labor from a government-run facility that has been called a reeducation or internment camp, Badger Sport had suspended ordering, receiving or shipping any product from the supplier and launched an investigation. This process included internal reviews and an investigation conducted by outside legal counsel working with a global forensic accounting firm, the company, based in Statesville, N.C., noted in a statement on its website.

Investigations were initiated by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), which had previously certified the factory, launched an investigation that included sending one of its senior auditors to do a full on-site audit of the facility.

“Based on the findings of this investigation, we have concluded that this facility is not engaged in the use of forced labor,” WRAP said last month.

During the investigation, WRAP said it confirmed that the facility was not located within the premises of the reeducation camp, as was claimed in reports by the Associated Press and other media outlets, “nor even in immediate proximity to it.”

But Badger said this week that its own investigation of Hetian Taida’s current facility in the Aidelaisi Industry Zone “found those operations to be consistent with our Global Sourcing Policy and the certification by an independent, non-profit team of global social compliance experts dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing around the world.”

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“However, historical documentation provided by Hetian Taida regarding [its] prior facility was insufficient to conclude with certainty that it had met Badger’s Global Sourcing Policy,” the company said. “Therefore, out of an abundance of caution and to eliminate any concerns about our supply chain given the controversy around doing business in Northwestern China, we will no longer source any product from Hetian Taida or this region of China.”

Badger Sport added that it will not ship any product sourced from Hetian Taida currently in its possession. The company said that the supplier only accounted for approximately one percent of its total annual sales, so it does not expect any interruption in service levels.

“We take extremely seriously any allegations of a supplier not complying with our Global Sourcing Policy,” Badger’s statement concluded. “We strive to adhere to the highest manufacturing standards, as we have done for the past 47 years without issue. We are committed to upholding our mission of ‘Quality for All,’ which has helped Badger become the trusted supplier to team dealers, decorators and apparel wholesalers throughout the U.S.”

Up to 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and others from predominantly Muslim groups are arbitrarily detained in reeducation camps where they are said to be subject to political indoctrination and forced labor, according to reports from news organization and NGOs.