Nike boycott of Xinjiang cotton backfires at all-China scale

After clothing chain H & M, Nike is now under attack in China, as the American sports brand no longer uses cotton from Xinjiang province due to concerns about forced labor. On Chinese social media, people are calling on each other to stop buying Nike products. And popular Chinese actor Wang Yibo has cancelled his sponsorship contract with Nike.

The commotion began after Chinese youth organizations came with angry statements to Western companies.

“Do you want to make money in China while spreading false rumors and boycotting Xinjiang cotton? Wishful thinking”, for example. Another organization called statements by H&M on the subject “ignorant and arrogant”.

But it’s probably not just criticism. For some reason, H&M’s name is no longer to be found on an important e-commerce platform of the Chinese online retail group Alibaba. H & M China has already made a short statement because of the fuss. In it, the company emphasizes that it does not take a political position.

The development is remarkable because Western companies did not recently report to cut ties with cotton producers from Xinjiang. The messages the Chinese respond to were already on the websites of the companies. The actions therefore seem to be a response to recent international developments. On Monday, the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on China for human rights violations.

China has been accused for years of suppressing the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, which is also an important cotton area. Uighurs in camps, imprisoned, tortured, and has been sterilized and put to forced labor, say human rights activists, and experts from the United Nations. The government in Beijing denies doing so and claims that extremist and terrorist Uighurs are being re-educated in camps.

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