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Corporate Social Activism at the Expense of Human Rights?

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These days it seems rare that Congressional Democrats and Republicans can agree on any contentious issue, but thankfully the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) unites most members. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) attended the Select Committee on The Chinese Communist Party’s hearing “The Chinese Communist Party’s Ongoing Uyghur Genocide” in late March. The Uyghur people have gone through unfathomable horrors for simply being Uyghur. An estimated one million Uyghurs are currently being held in internment camps across the Xinjiang region of China, essentially modern-day concentration camps. Rep. Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri) shared in the hearing that it takes around $300 billion a year for the CCP to keep this operation of surveillance, detention, and torture of Uyghurs running. That is no small financial lift, and it begs the question to be asked, how is China lifting this cost?

Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, said in 2020, “China will be one of the biggest opportunities for BlackRock over the long term, both for asset managers and investors, despite the uncertainty and decoupling of global systems we’re seeing today.” When he says “decoupling of global systems,” he means America’s slow untangling of dependency on other countries, specifically China, as their hostility has continued to grow towards the West at large, specifically America. Shortly after Mr. Fink’s statement in 2021, BlackRock became the first foreign-owned asset manager licensed to start an onshore mutual fund business in China. This partnership undoubtedly calls into question Blackrock’s willingness to comply with Xi Jinping and, in turn, the CCP’s demands. The CCP does not believe in a difference of opinions; you must abide by their standards to do business with them.

Will BlackRock, as the world’s largest asset manager, have to look the other way on human rights abuses in the name of sustainability? BlackRock openly markets how Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) measures are an important litmus test for their business. They “believe climate risk is investment risk,” and how one of their goals is to reduce climate change through renewable energy, like wind and solar energy. It is from the Xinjiang region, where Uyghurs are tortured that 42% of the world’s total production of raw solar materials originated in 2021. Seven of the top ten wind and solar manufacturers are Chinese businesses and utilize forced labor for their production. How can Blackrock reconcile these facts? Climate policy cannot be promoted at the expense of human rights.

ESG is being used to advance a progressive ideology that could never be legislated. Mr. Fink himself has said that is not the way it is supposed to work, “As I have said consistently over many years now, it is for governments to make policy and enact legislation, and not for companies, including asset managers, to be the environmental police.” However, we cannot ignore that BlackRock’s agenda-driven investment decisions, not only go against prioritizing best financial outcomes for their clients, but they drive public policy in artificial and detrimental ways that should concern those who work to protect human rights in America and around the world.

The CCP is exploiting the climate change obsession and capitalizing on the panic through their slave labor. The CCP does not care about climate change, as China has consistently been one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases. BlackRock, ironically, seems to ignore these concerns in promoting investment in China, while it punishes US companies that do not go along with its ESG goals. We surely hope the company reconsiders its priorities.

We commend Congress for taking an interest in these developments that seem to benefit China at the expense of human rights and America’s future financial goals.