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Enes Kanter Calls Out Nike, Co-Founder Phil Knight Over Forced Labor in China

Celtics center Enes Kanter called on Nike co-founder Phil Knight to "visit these slave labor camps" in China in an Instagram post shared Tuesday.

Kanter's latest post, part of a series attempting to draw attention to various injustices in China, called on Knight to "see it with your own eyes." He tagged LeBron James and Michael Jordan's Instagram handles as well and added, "you guys are welcome to come too."

Kanter's post on Tuesday comes as he wore customized shoes with the words "Modern Day Slavery" and "No More Excuses" written on them in his team's overtime win Monday over the Hornets.

On Monday, he posted a video on Twitter in which he also called out Nike.

"Nike remains vocal about injustice here in America, but when it comes to China, Nike remains silent," said Kanter, in a post which featured the hashtags #HypocriteNike and #EndUyghurForcedLabor.

"You do not address police brutality in China, you do not speak about discrimination against the LGBTQ community, you do not say a word about the oppression of minorities in China, you are scared to speak up."

As CNN notes, the U.S. State Department estimates that up to two million members of the Uyghur community and other ethnic minorities have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang since 2017.

Nike has not weighed in on Kanter's latest comments but said in a statement earlier this year that it "does not source products from the [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region] and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region."

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It added in its prior statement that, "Nike is committed to ethical and responsible manufacturing and we uphold international labor standards. We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region."

Since the NBA season started last Tuesday, Kanter has been used his social media platforms to regularly comment on China. 

Celtics games, both highlights and upcoming broadcasts, were removed from the Chinese app Tencent Sports last Wednesday after Kanter posted a video voicing his support of Tibetan independence. 

"Brutal dictator of China, Xi Jinping, I have a message for you and your henchmen,” Kanter said in the video, which was posted to Twitter and nearly three minutes in length. “Free Tibet, free Tibet, free Tibet.”

China has ruled the western region of Tibet since 1951. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said at a briefing Thursday that Kanter's “falsehoods are not worth refuting," adding that China would “never accept those attacks and smears against Tibet’s development and progress.” 

Nevertheless, challenges to China's control of Tibet have often sparked tension within the region.

Kanter's series of posts mark the latest instance of the tension between the NBA and China, one of the league's largest markets. In the fall of 2019, Daryl Morey, then the Rockets general manager and the current president of basketball operations at the 76ers, tweeted a message encouraging his followers to “stand with Hong Kong." In the wake of Morey's tweet, which was quickly deleted, CCTV stopped broadcasting NBA games. While Tencent has broadly resumed broadcasting games, Philadelphia's games remain unavailable to stream on the platform.

Kanter, who was born in Switzerland to Turkish parents and grew up in Turkey, has, for years, also criticized Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. He was indicted in Turkey in 2018 on charges of belonging to an armed terrorist group, an allegation he denies, and his Turkish passport has been revoked. 

Kanter has appeared in just one of the Celtics' four games this season, playing five minutes in Boston's loss 32-point loss to Toronto last Friday.

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