Forced Uighur labor: H&M, Nike face boycott in China
H&M, Nike, are among the Western apparel brands facing a boycott in China for taking a stand against forced labor conditions in the Asian country's Xinjiang region. The retail giants had expressed concern over the use of forced Uighur labor in the production of Xinjiang cotton. Notably, China is facing sanctions for alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang. Here are more details.
H&M, Nike said they don't source products from Xinjiang
The statements by H&M and Nike were made last year but resurfaced recently after the announcement of Western sanctions. Both companies had, in separate statements, expressed concern over reports that people from the Uighur Muslim minority were being forced to pick cotton in Xinjiang in Western China. The companies said they did not source products from the region.
'Spreading rumors against Xinjiang cotton while making money in China?'
Reacting to the statement, the Communist Youth League—a Chinese Communist Party group—said on the microblogging platform Weibo on Wednesday morning: "Spreading rumors to boycott Xinjiang cotton, while also wanting to make money in China? Wishful thinking!"
E-commerce platforms, celebrities, others boycott brands
At least three major Chinese e-commerce platforms—Pinduoduo, JD.com, and Tmall—had reportedly withdrawn H&M products from sale by Wednesday night. Several celebrities also released statements announcing that they were severing ties with the brands. On social media, there was a major call for boycotting H&M and Nike products with the hashtag "I support Xinjiang cotton" being among the top trends on Weibo.
EU, US, UK, Canada imposed sanctions on China this week
Earlier this week, the European Union, United States, Britain, and Canada imposed sanctions on senior Chinese officials in the northwest region. The sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes. China retaliated by imposing sanctions on European lawmakers, scholars, and institutions. It also reiterated its denial of the allegations of human rights abuses by its officials in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang produces 20% of world's cotton
Xinjiang produces roughly a fifth of the world's cotton. It is home to millions of Uighurs, however, mass migration by Han Chinese—the ethnic majority—to Xinjiang in recent decades has triggered friction and deadly violence. China responded to this with massive security crackdowns and state surveillance programs. Reportedly, Uighurs are being detained at "re-education" facilities where they allegedly face torture, forced labor, sexual abuse, etc.