The Communist Youth League on Weibo brought to the fore H&M statement from March 2020, in which the clothing brand said it would stop buying cotton grown in Xinjiang. There has been a growing trend of boycotting Xinjiang Cotton as many foreign brands were apprehensive of human rights abuses on the Uyghur Muslims. However, H& M as well as other Western apparels have been facing a boycott for voicing out their opinion.
The Swedish retailer stated it was deeply concerned about reports of forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). In response to this, China’s ruling Communist Party has been attacking H&M. This development comes in the backdrop of the Western sanctions which have been imposed on Chinese officials who have been accused of human rights abuses in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
It was on Monday that the European Union, the United States, Britain and Canada jointly announced travel and financial sanctions on four senior Chinese officials blamed for abuses in Xinjiang. On the other hand, China and Russian Diplomats have taken an oath to stand together against Western sanctions by enhancing cooperation and becoming less dependent on the US payments system amidst growing pressure from the Biden administration. Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a joint press conference on Tuesday and stated that they would be boosting ties and oppose Western aggression.
Not only that, Burberry, Adidas, Nike, and New Balance has been cited by the Global Times which acts as the China’s mouthpiece. These companies had been cited because of the critical remarks they had made about Xinjiang cotton two years ago. Chinese celebrities such as Wang Yibo announced that endorsement contracts with H&M and Nike may be discontinued.
Chinese social media has erupted against Nike after it remarked of the growing concern about reports of forced labour in Xinjiang and emphasized that it does not use cotton from the region. The Chinese social media has called out its citizens support local brands such as Li Ning and Anta and not Nike or Adidas.
The Trump administration had announced an import ban on all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations that they are made with forced labor from detained Uighur Muslims. However, imported products would be imported from China but not raw cotton itself. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)made it clear that it would rather import cotton products made in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Analysts are of the view that the US ban along with the increasing boycott by the Western apparel industry would now result in more demand for raw cotton from India, particularly from the US, Vietnam and Bangladesh and dependency on China would be reduced.