Nike, Adidas join brands feeling Chinese social media heat over Xinjiang

Nike, Adidas join brands feeling Chinese social media heat over Xinjiang”

Both Nike and Adidas, which have been growing rapidly in China, have said previously that they do not source products or yarn from the Xinjiang region.

The attacks began when the party's Youth League called attention on social media to a H&M statement in March 2020 which said that it would stop buying cotton from Xinjiang in China's north-west. It was not clear why the H&M statement was back in the public eye.

The row comes within days of sanctions from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and European Union on Chinese individuals and entities over Xinjiang affairs. Beijing hit back with retaliatory sanctions on European lawmakers, academics and institutions.

Some internet users said they would stop buying Nike and instead support local brands such as Li Ning and Anta, while others told Adidas to leave China.

"We have been purchasing and using cotton produced in China, including that from Xinjiang, and in the future, we will continue to do so", Anta said in the statement. The internet firm didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Want to make money in China while spreading false rumors and boycotting Xinjiang cotton?" Chinese consumers are already taking aim online at Adidas, Nike and Ikea for being members of the Better Cotton Initiative, a cotton sustainability organisation that suspended licensing of farms in Xinjiang a year ago. The U.S. government began throwing sanctions on Xinjiang cotton previous year.

Xinjiang has steadily become a heated issue between China and the West as reports emerged that more than one million mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghurs were put in reeducation camps, prompted the USA and others to accuse Beijing of genocide.

Nike, Adidas and the BCI did not respond to requests for comment.

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"H&M Group respects Chinese consumers as always", the statement said.

By Thursday morning, searches for H&M products and store locations were blocked on Chinese e-commerce platforms and online map platforms.

A search for "H&M" returned zero results on Alibaba's Taobao marketplace. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who this week hit the USA and Europe over everything from the slave trade and Nazism to the killing of George Floyd and alleged hoarding of coronavirus vaccines, on Thursday called the Xinjiang forced labor allegations "malicious lies fabricated by anti-China forces".

Conglomerate Lotte Group, for example, was forced to retreat from China due to a state-encouraged backlash against South Korean brands following the 2017 installation of a U.S. anti-missile defence system aimed at deterring North Korea on land owned by the firm.

Hua then held up a second photograph of cotton fields in Xinjiang. "More than 40 per cent of the cotton in Xinjiang is harvested by machinery, so the alleged forced labour is non-existent".

Angry comments from Chinese nationalists under the post by the Communist Youth League called for a boycott of H&M in China.

Japanese retailer Muji, owned by Ryohin Keikaku Co, told the Global Times that it uses Xinjiang cotton, winning praise from Chinese internet users, who lauded the firm's "survival instincts".

"The so-called existence of forced labor in the Xinjiang region is totally fictitious", said a Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng.

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