Business & Economy

Chinese shopping sites drop H&M over old Xinjiang cotton comments

Beijing, Mar 25 (efe-epa).- Several e-commerce platforms in China appear to have removed the Swedish clothing brand H&M from their sites, months after the company issued a statement saying it was “deeply concerned” about allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang and that it did not source its cotton from the province.

Efe found Thursday that searches for the brand’s stores and products on the platforms, Taobao, Tmall and Pinduoduo yielded no results.

“Spreading rumours to boycott Xinjiang cotton, while also wanting to make money in China? Wishful thinking!” the Communist Youth League, the youth wing of China’s Communist Party, said in a post on Weibo on Wednesday.

Accompanying the post was H&M’s statement that read, “we strictly prohibit any type of forced labour in our supply chain, regardless of the country or region.”

The company had also announced that it would cut ties with a Chinese supplier until allegations made in a report pointing to 82 Chinese and foreign companies benefiting from the forced transfer of members of the Uighur minority were clarified.

By 11.30 am on Thursday, the Communist Youth League’s post had been shared more than 40,000 times and received over 411,000 likes and 16,000 comments, many of them in favor of the brand’s expulsion from the country.

Other companies, including America’s Nike, which issued a statement similar to that of H&M last year saying it was concerned about reports of forced labor and that it does not use textiles or yarn from Xinjiang, also faced backlash from some Chinese netizens, who called for boycotts.

Popular Chinese actor and Nike representative Wang Yibo terminated his contract with the brand over online criticism of the company’s statement, it emerged Thursday.

These calls for boycotts, months after the statements were issued by H&M and Nike, occur in the same week that the European Union announced sanctions against four individuals and one Chinese entity for alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang, where international media faces many challenges in reporting.

The United Kingdom, Canada and the United States also announced coordinated sanctions.

China retaliated on the same day, Monday, by announcing sanctions on 10 European individuals and four entities. EFE-EPA


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