The Strategist

Chinese users criticise H&M for refusing to use cotton from Xinjiang

03/25/2021 - 02:44

Social media users in China have criticised H&M for rejecting cotton from Xinjiang, which the company suggests is produced by the forced labour of Uigur Muslims. Major online retailers Tmall, Jingdong and Pinduoduo have joined the boycott, removing H&M clothing from their catalogues.

Chinese social media users criticised clothing retailer H&M for a statement which the company released last September, The New York Times and Reuters wrote. In the autumn, H&M expressed concern about the use of forced labour by Uigurs in Xinjiang and said it would refuse to buy cotton from local producers.

The Chinese Communist Youth Union accused the company of spreading false rumors, and the Chinese army called H&M's statement "ignorant and arrogant," the NYT writes.

Reuters points out that it is unclear why the reaction to the manufacturer's September statement has started now. However, the campaign against H&M may be related to the fact that on 22 March the US Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against two Chinese officials. The sanctions were linked to "serious human rights violations against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region".

At least three major Chinese e-commerce platforms (Pinduoduo, and Tmall) have removed H&M from their catalogues, Reuters and NYT noted, citing local media. It is now impossible to verify whether the company's products were previously featured on the sites.

State broadcaster CCTV joined H&M's critics in saying that the company "will definitely pay a heavy price for its wrongdoing." The broadcaster also added that the retailer had not attempted to verify information on the use of forced labour and had not requested data from the authorities.


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