H&M and Nike have a backlash against China in the face of Xinjiang’s stance
Global brands H&M and Nike are facing a backlash from China’s state-run media and online outlets over historic expressions of concern over forced labor in the country’s western Xinjiang region, as a round of sanctions sparked tensions between Beijing and Western powers.
On Thursday, a search of clothing by Swedish company H&M was unsuccessful at Alibaba’s T-Mall and JD.com, China’s two largest online stores. The apparent halt was reported to H&M after the Chinese Communist Youth League accused Xinjiang of “boycotting” cotton. A statement from the company last year said H&M was “very concerned” about the forced labor in the western region of China, where officials have been accused of human rights violations.
H & M’s 2020 statement, which was unavailable on Thursday, said it would not come out of Xinjiang directly and would do so. ended their relationship With Huafu Fashion, a team that operates in the region.
Searches of H&M physical stores in the main Baidu and Gaode China map apps also failed on Thursday.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that it would “not accept any effort to tarnish Xinjiang’s flawless reputation for pure white cotton” and said the allegations of forced labor were “imaginary”.
Alibaba, JD.com and Baidu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
An extra, monthly statement Nike expressed concerns about forced labor in Xinjiang and said the company had no sources directly from the region, Chinese state media said on Wednesday. It sparked outrage on Chinese social media and from local business partners in the U.S. group.
Wang Yibo, a Chinese pop star and brand ambassador for Nike, said he was cutting ties with sportswear manufacturer. Yuehua Entertainment’s employer said in a statement that Wang “holds on to words or actions that tarnish China.”
Along with sparking the boycotts, Beijing has called on consumers to “help Xinjiang cotton”.
China expects a supply of 1.85 million tonnes of cotton this year and “even cotton in Xinjiang is not enough for us to use,” state media said.
Western clothing brands have come under pressure from human rights groups to stop supplying cotton, fabrics or yarn to Xinjiang’s suppliers, who produce more than 85% of China’s raw cotton.
H&M said on Wednesday through its official Weibo account that all suppliers around the world had to meet responsible business standards. The Swedish trader added that the focus on suppliers was not a political stance and that the group did not directly buy cotton anywhere in the world. “We are committed to long-term investment and development in China,” he said.
The backlash against H&M and Nike coincided this week with the reaction in Beijing coordinated by the EU, the US, the UK and Canada over sanctions imposed by the EU, the US, the UK, the UK and Canada.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately denies the human rights violations in Xinjiang retaliation With sanctions against EU groups and parliamentarians, the bloc has targeted regional officials who have linked regional officials to an “illegal” education “camp system.” threatened scupper Brussels has ratified a strong agreement to enter the EU-China market.
Allison Gill, who is campaigning for the U.S.-based Global Work Justice International Labor Rights Forum, said the reaction against H&M and Nike is an attempt by Beijing to move the narrative away from international scrutiny. China’s security restrictions and forced labor in Xinjiang.
“It can’t be a coincidence to make a fairly standard statement about previous proceedings today,” he said of the attacks on H&M.
Multinational companies have been forced to tighten their belts to ensure that they are not complicit in human rights violations in Xinjiang while avoiding Beijing’s anger.
Disney last year shout then thanked a branch of the Xinjiang police in the credits for his direct action Mulan do it again to allow filming of scenes in the region.
China’s rapid economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has made it a rare bright spot for many clothing brands.
In the quarter ended February, Nike-branded goods sold in the Greater China region earned $ 973 million in pre-tax profits – a 75% year-on-year jump – compared to $ 970 million in North America.
Additional report by Emma Zhou in Beijing