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Foreign brands under attack in China over Xinjiang

Foreign brands faced a growing storm on Chinese social media on Thursday (March 25). It did so after Beijing’s offensive against H&M after the Swedish company raised concerns about Xinjiang. Earlier this week, China denied allegations of human rights abuses by its officials in China’s western region of the country. After the European Union, the US, UK and Canada are imposing sanctions on officials. Beijing struck back with retaliatory measures against European lawmakers, academics and institutions. The Chinese state media selected H&M this week for a statement that the media covered last year. The world’s second largest clothing retailer said it was deeply concerned about allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang and that it did not source any products from the region. It was not clear why the H&M Declaration was known to the public again. But it sparked a social media frenzy in China that attracted more brands. Nike, who previously said in an undated statement it was “concerned” about reports of coercive labor, was one. Like the German sportswear company Adidas. Many internet users said they would stop buying Nike and instead support local brands. Others bluntly told Adidas they should leave China to use cotton from Xinjiang. China produces over a fifth of the world’s cotton. Xinjiang accounts for about 87% of Chinese production. Nike and Adidas did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In response to the outcry, H&M said it was committed to long-term investments on Wednesday, but as of Thursday morning, searching for H&M stores on Baidu Maps returned no results.

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