A group of six state attorneys general are asking CBS and its parent company, Paramount Global, not to run Super Bowl ads from Temu, a rapidly growing Chinese online shopping platform they claim is selling products of forced labor.
This will be the second time Temu has spent millions of dollars for an ad spot at a high-profile football event. Its first Super Bowl commercial last year featured the tagline, “Shop like a billionaire,” highlighting a business model of swaying customers with ultra-discounted merchandise predominantly sourced from China.
In a Feb. 10 letter to CBS and Paramount Global, the attorneys general said they have reason to believe that Temu is selling products made with forced labor.
“Congressional investigators believe Temu is illegally selling products made by forced labor in an area of China in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is committing genocide,” they wrote in the letter, first reported by Daily Wire.
“CBS should not elevate a company profiting from forced labor and genocide during America’s biggest game.”
The letter is led by Attorney General Austin Knudsen of Montana. He was joined by Attorneys General Tim Griffin of Arkansas, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, Brenna Bird of Iowa, Lynn Fitch of Mississippi, and Alan Wilson of South Carolina.
“The United States House Select Committee on the CCP has revealed disturbing information about Temu’s failure to comply with American laws prohibiting use of forced labor by Uyghurs,” they added, referring to the Select Committee’s interim report published last June.
In that report, the Select Committee details the preliminary findings of a bipartisan investigation into Temu and its Chinese rival, Shein. According to the Committee, Temu has no system to ensure compliance with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021 to ban any goods produced in Xinjiang—where the CCP’s human rights abuses against the Uyghurs took place—or by entities associated with CCP authorities in Xinjiang from entering the United States.
The report also suggested that Shein and Temu were exploiting the United States’ de minimis rule to evade customs enforcement—wherein nearly all their products are valued under $800 and can enter the country uninspected and free from duties that most American clothing brands pay.
“Temu is doing next to nothing to keep its supply chains free from slave labor,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Select Committee’s chairman, said at that time.
“Temu and Shein are building empires around the de minimis loophole in our import rules—dodging import taxes and evading scrutiny on the millions of goods they sell to Americans.”
Several big apparel retailers with a manufacturing presence in China, including Adidas and Nike, have been under congressional investigation by the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party since last May.
While Adidas, Nike, and Shein are able to regularly audit their manufacturers and publish data on how often cotton and other raw materials that can be traced to forced labor are found in their products, Temu has yet to make such data public.
In Saturday’s letter, the attorneys general also took issue with Temu’s parent company, Pinduoduo, or PDD, accusing the Chinese online retailer of being linked to the CCP.
“Given the virtual guarantee that Temu is selling products made with forced labor in China and its links to the CCP, CBS should not broadcast Temu’s commercials during the Super Bowl. Americans deserve better,” the attorneys general conclude.
The same concern was echoed in an earlier letter to CBS and Paramount Global by a group of 11 Republican members of Congress. Allowing Temu’s commercial to air “would be a touchdown for the Chinese Communist Party against the home team,” they argued.
CBS and Paramount Global declined to comment on the petitions.