In a virtual Congressional hearing last Tuesday—Corporate Sponsorship of the 2022 Beijing Olympics—there was this exchange between Senator Tom Cotton (R, AR) and Paul Lalli, Coca-Cola’s Global Vice President for Human Rights and corporate representative at the hearing:
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): So your company said at the time that we will continue to stand up for what is right in Georgia and across the United States. So are we to take from your statement at the time that Coca Cola will not stand up for what is right outside the United States? Because that’s what it sounds like this morning in this testimony.
PAUL LALLI, COCA-COLA’S GLOBAL VICE PRESIDENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: No, Senator, we stand up for what is right across the world. We apply the same human rights principles in the United States that we do across the world.
COTTON: Do you believe that the Chinese Communist Party is committing genocide against the Uyghur people?
LALLI: We’re aware of the reports of the State Department on this issue as well. There are other departments of the US government. We respect those reports. They continue to inform our program, as do reports from other from civil society.
Think about that deliberately vapid non-response. Coca Cola stands for what’s right across the world, and Coca Cola doesn’t object to the People’s Republic of China’s abuse, much less genocide, of the Uyghurs in the PRC’s Xinjiang province.
Nor was it just Cotton that the Coca-Cola rep refused to answer. Progressive-Democrat Tom Malinowski (D, NJ) pressed Lalli specifically on whether Coca-Cola would condemn any Chinese government abuses against Uyghurs. Lalli’s carefully empty response:
We respect all human rights.
It seems pretty clear: Coca Cola considers that abuse, that genocide, to be part of what’s right across the world. Because Uighurs, in Coca-Cola’s august consideration, don’t count as human or otherwise worthy of human rights.