CHINA / SOCIETY
H&M boycotted for ‘suicidal’ remarks on Xinjiang affairs
Published: Mar 24, 2021 10:26 PM
H&M. Photo: VCG

H&M. Photo: VCG



Chinese netizens have called for the ouster of Sweden's fashion retailer H&M from the Chinese market after they found the company had previously said it doesn't source products from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, citing so called forced labor concerns in the cotton-producing region amid the latest wave of Western attack at China. 

The boycotts is still spreading, and consumers can not check out H&M products on  some online platforms and  even some work studios said they have stopped cooperation with the brand. 

As of press time, the latest search results of the taobao.com show that all "H&M" and "HM" searches have returned no results. Similar result is also found out on JD.com, another online shopping giant. 

H&M issue goes viral. Mobile phone app stores of Xiaomi, Huawei and Vivo have removed H&M's app, while Baidu map and Dianping.com blocked search results for their stores.

Huang Xuan and Song Qian, two Chinese brand ambassador of H&M with millions of followers on Weibo, have cut cooperation with the company according to the two actors' studio announcement on Wednesday. 

H&M said last year that it is deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of "forced labor" and discrimination of ethno-religious minorities in Xinjiang, and it strictly prohibits any type of forced labor in the supply chain, regardless of the country or region.

The company said if it discovers and verifies a case of forced labor at a supplier it works with, it will take immediate action and, as an ultimate consequence, look to terminate the business relationship.

Although the statement has been on its official website for a long time, it has triggered a fresh round of attention as the EU recently made sanctions over Xinjiang affairs, sending a strong signal of meddling in Chinese internal affairs. Some internet users said "such suicidal behavior" deeply offends the feelings of the Chinese people, and the company could not earn money in the Chinese market.

Netizens also left remarks on the official Weibo account of H&M to show their outrage, including comments such as "'I heard that you are boycotting Chinese cotton, then I will boycott your products."  

The Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) slammed H&M's comment in a post on its Weibo account on Wednesday, saying "Spreading rumors to boycott Xinjiang cotton while also wanting to make money in China? It is wishful thinking!"  

In another post, the CYLC used the remarks made by Chinese senior diplomat Yang Jiechi at last week's Alaska meeting with US officials, in which he said that "the Chinese people won't accept this," referring to the US condescending actions against China. 

Xinjiang cotton "won't accept this," the CYLC said in the post, urging H&M to take off its colored glasses and immediately stop spreading false information about Xinjiang.

H&M would rather believe the lies spread by a few people than hear the voices of billions of Chinese people, and would not go to Xinjiang to take a look. What is the intention of such manipulation? the People's Daily said.  

Although the Chinese market is large, any malicious slander is not welcome here; national interests are above all else, and such behavior is doomed to be wishful thinking, the flagship newspaper said.

The Council of the European Union announced on Monday that it will impose restrictive measures on four Chinese nationals and one entity, as a reaction to the alleged mistreatment by China of its minority Uygur population in Xinjiang, including some senior officials of the 13th People's Congress of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.  

China then hit back with countermeasures by sanctioning 10 individuals and four entities from the EU that have spread rumors and lies about Xinjiang.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also refuted allegations of "forced labor" in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region's cotton production again, pointing out the report was fabricated by infamous anti-China pseudo-scholar Adrian Zenz. 

H&M China said in an announcement on Wednesday evening that the group has always upheld the principles of openness and transparency in the management of the global supply chain, and does not represent any political position.

Market watchers said such resist on the firm may cast shadow on its market performance in China, which remained one of the top four markets for the group.

H&M, whose full December-February earnings report is due on March 31, is bracing for a loss in the quarter after the pandemic slashed 2020 profits by 88 percent, according to Reuters.

Since March of 2020, there have been reports of store closures in some cities, but, compared with the sluggish sales in other markets, Chinese market demand remains a safe bet for the company. 


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