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Temu, the controversial Chinese e-commerce giant, wants to take it over AmazonHe returns to the big game on Sunday with a Super Bowl ad that lawmakers are calling for Paramount Global and CBS isn’t running.
The company, owned by PDD holdingsrose to rapid notoriety last year after running an ad during the big game just months after its founding.
Last year’s advertising touted Temu’s low prices and urged consumers to shop “like a billionaire.” The multi-million dollar investment put Temu on the map and by the end of 2023 it was the #1 most downloaded app in the US with monthly active users exceeding 51 million in January, up nearly 300% year over year, according to data from Sensor Tower.
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The details of this year’s ad have not yet been revealed, but it is already mired in controversy.
The company wants to win over U.S. shoppers by being the next best “everything store” with lower prices than competitors, but lawmakers say it uses slave labor in its supply chain and spies on its customers.
On Wednesday, 11 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the CEOs of CBS, which airs the Super Bowl, and parent company Paramount, urging them not to run the ad.
“Since last year’s Super Bowl, Congress, through the House of Representatives Special Committee on the Chinese Community Caucus, has uncovered alarming findings indicating that Temu has a pattern of non-compliance with illegal products entering the U.S. market,” it said Write.
“In particular, Temu does not have a system in place to ensure compliance with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). This virtually guarantees that shipments from Temu containing products made using forced labor will regularly enter the United States in violation of the UFLPA,” it said, citing the House committee report.
Airing Temu’s commercial “would be a touchdown for the Chinese Communist Party against the home team,” the letter said.
The letter was sent by Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.V., and signed by Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Jim Banks, R-Ind., Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., Christopher Smith, R-N.J. signed ., Pete Stauber, R-Minn., Ronny Jackson, R-Tex., Michelle Steel, R-Calif., Beth Van Duyne, R-Tex., James Baird, R-Ind. and Mike Carey, R-Ohio.
Paramount and CBS declined to comment.
Temu, along with Shein and other clothing retailers with production sites in China, have been under investigation by the Chinese Communist Party’s House of Representatives Special Committee since May.
While cotton and other raw materials derived from forced labor remain a problem throughout the fashion industry, Shein regularly provides data on how often banned cotton appears in its garments and publishes the results of the audits it conducts on its manufacturers . Other retailers also publish audit results.
Temu has not yet made such data publicly available.
“Company officials casually point to standard terms and conditions requiring suppliers not to use forced labor, but Temu does not conduct audits and has no compliance system in place to prevent supporting atrocities,” said committee member and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo ., in a Friday bulletin. “The company even admitted that it “does not expressly prohibit third-party sellers from selling products based on their origin from the Xinjiang Autonomous Region” and completely disregards the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law.”
In a statement to CNBC, Lütkemeyer called Temu’s ad “disgusting.”
“Some people watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as much as the game. “It is disgusting to think that a company based on slave labor and with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party would suddenly make a direct appeal to millions of Americans,” Lütkemeyer said. “I hope that when people see it, it will only draw attention to the sinister backgrounds of Temu and Pinduoduo. A conspicuous advertisement for the site’s cheap products is lipstick on the ugliest pig in existence.”
In response, a Temu spokesperson told CNBC that its standards and practices related to the use of forced labor “are no different from those of major e-commerce players such as Amazon.” Ebay And Etsy“and the allegations “are completely unfounded.”
“Before opening their stores and listing products on Temu, each seller must sign an agreement. “This document represents a commitment to maintaining lawful and compliant business operations and strictly adhering to the legal standards and regulations of its specific markets,” a spokesperson said.
“The use of forced, penal or child labor is strictly prohibited. The employment of all our dealers and suppliers must be strictly voluntary. They must respect freedom of association and workers’ right to collective bargaining. Temus dealers, suppliers and other third parties The parties must pay their employees and contractors on a timely basis and comply with all applicable local wage and hour laws.”