Activist groups staged protests during the annual shareholders meeting of sportswear giant Adidas on Thursday to protest the German company's sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics.
"Clean Clothes Campaign" activists protested against the exploitation of low-pay labor
Media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) gained the right to attend the shareholders' meeting in the central German town of Fuerth by buying shares in the company.
RSF called company executives to consider the implications of its brand being linked with human rights violations in China.
"Adidas has a moral responsibility," said RSF executive officer Elke Schaefter.
Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer said he took human rights very seriously, according to the text of his speech at the meeting.
He nevertheless criticized human rights organisations as "moralists who just emit rhetoric."
The Paris-based RSF used the same tactic in order to attend the annual general meeting of Coca-Cola last month in the United States. The company is also sponsoring this summer's Olympics.
Business or politics?
The CEO of the International Campaign for Tibet in Germany, Kai Mueller, said Adidas should work on improving human rights in Tibet.
The Adidas chief, however, said that his company was combining profitable growth with social and environmental responsibility.
"I don't think that what's going on in China is good," Hainer said. "But Adidas has nothing to do with it."
Earlier this week, the brand with the three stripes reported a big jump in profits for the first quarter of 2008, driven by double-digit growth in sales.
Net income attributable to shareholders increased 32 percent from the same period a year ago to 169 million euros ($260 million), the company said in a statement.
First-quarter sales in Asia increased 25 percent on a currency-neutral basis, driven by particularly strong growth in China and Korea, the company said.
In addition to sponsoring the Olympic Games in Beijing, Adidas will be represented at this year's European soccer championship to be held in Austria and in Switzerland, as well.