clearn.png
Monday October 18th, 2021 7:15AM

China attacks foreign clothing, shoe brands over Xinjiang

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese state TV called Thursday for a boycott of H&M as Beijing lashed out at foreign clothing and footwear brands following Western sanctions on Chinese officials accused of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.

The ruling Communist Party criticized H&M for saying in March 2020 it would stop buying cotton from the northwestern Chinese region. The Swedish retailer joined other brands in expressing concern about reports of forced labor there.

The party newspaper Global Times also criticized statements by Burberry, Adidas, Nike, New Balance and Zara about Xinjiang as early as two years ago.

“For enterprises that touch the bottom line of our country, the response is very clear: don’t buy!” China Central Television said on its social media account. It said the ‘H’ and ‘M’ in the Swedish name stood for Chinese words meaning lie and falsehood.

The attacks follow Monday’s decision by the 27-nation European Union, the United States, Britain and Canada to impose travel and financial sanctions on four Chinese officials blamed for abuses in Xinjiang.

More than 1 million people in Xinjiang, most of them from predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, have been confined to work camps, according to foreign researchers and governments. Beijing denies mistreating them and says it is trying to promote economic development and stamp out radicalism.

“The so-called existence of forced labor in the Xinjiang region is totally fictitious,” said a Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng. He called on foreign companies to “correct wrong practices” but did not say what they were expected to do.

Celebrities including Wang Yibo, a popular singer and actor, announced they were breaking endorsement contracts with H&M and Nike.

H&M products were missing from China’s most popular e-commerce platforms, Alibaba Group’s TMall and JD.com. News reports said they were removed due to public criticism over its Xinjiang statement. The companies didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Beijing often attacks foreign clothing, auto, travel and other brands for actions by their governments or to pressure companies to conform to its official positions on Taiwan, Tibet and other sensitive issues.

Companies usually apologize and change websites or advertising to maintain access to China, one of the biggest global markets. But Xinjiang is an unusually thorny issue. Western brands face pressure at home to distance themselves from possible abuses.

A loss of sales in China, the only major economy where consumer spending has rebounded to above pre-pandemic levels, can be especially painful at a time when U.S. and European demand is weak.

H&M Group “doesn’t represent any political standpoint” and “respects Chinese consumers," the company said on its social media account.

The company said it deals with 350 Chinese manufacturers to make products that “comply with the principles of sustainable development.” H&M said it “is committed to long-term investment and development in China.”

Brian Ehrig, partner in the consumer practice of global strategy and management consulting firm Kearney, said it is likely that roughly 60% to 70% of H&M's raw materials, like fabrics, come from China. He said that if H&M is cut off, it will be much harder for the company to get access to these materials and could mean higher prices and production delays.

H&M had 520 stores and $1.4 billion in sales in China in 2019, the last year for which annual figures have been reported. China is its third-largest market after Germany and the United States.

The criticism began when the ruling party’s Youth League on Wednesday called attention to last March's H&M statement on its social media account. It gave no indication why it singled out the company or an explanation for citing a year-old statement.

“Spreading lies to boycott Xinjiang while wanting to make money in China? Wishful thinking,” the Youth League said.

The Global Times said Burberry, Adidas, Nike and New Balance also made “cutting remarks” about Xinjiang cotton. A separate Global Times report cited what it said was a statement by Zara that it had a “zero-tolerance approach towards forced labor.”

H&M's statement last year cited a decision by the Better Cotton Initiative, an industry group that promotes environmental and labor standards, to stop licensing Xinjiang cotton because it was “increasingly difficult” to trace how it was produced. In September, H&M announced it would stop working with a Chinese manufacturer that was accused of using forced labor in a unit unrelated to the Swedish brand.

In January, Washington imposed a ban on imports of cotton from Xinjiang, a major supplier to clothing producers for Western markets.

China’s official outrage has focused on Europe, possibly because relations with the EU had been amicable amid rancor with Washington over trade disputes and accusations of Chinese spying and technology theft.

Official criticism of H&M reflected that tone of grievance at being hurt by a friend.

“How can H&M eat Chinese rice and then smash China’s pot?” state television said in a commentary Wednesday.

Comments on the internet cited clothing brands Uniqlo of Japan and The Gap of the United States as other possible offenders. It was unclear how many of those accounts were members of the public and how many were run by the ruling party’s vast propaganda apparatus.

The pop star Wang's announcement that he was quitting as a Nike “brand ambassador" didn't mention Xinjiang. It said he “firmly resists any words and actions that pollute China."

Others including singer and actress Song Qian, a former member of Korean pop group f(x) who also is known as Victoria Song, and actor Huang Xuan, who announced they would end endorsement contracts with H&M. Actress Tang Songyun said she was breaking ties with Nike.

Chinese athletic shoe brand ANTA announced it was pulling out of BCI, the industry cotton group.

___

AP Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio in New York contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Entertainment, AP Online Recordings News, AP Business, AP World News - International incidents
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
China attacks foreign clothing, shoe brands over Xinjiang
China’s ruling Communist Party is lashing out at H&M and other clothing and footwear brands as it retaliates for Western sanctions imposed on Chinese officials accused of human rights abuses in the northwestern region of Xinjiang
12:58AM ( 7 minutes ago )
North Korea test-fires ballistic missiles in message to US
North Korea has test-fired its first ballistic missiles since President Joe Biden took office as it expands its military capabilities and increases pressure on Washington while nuclear negotiations remain stalled
12:58AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Mitchell scores 27, Jazz rout short-handed Nets 118-88
Donovan Mitchell scored 27 points and the Utah Jazz routed the short-handed Brooklyn Nets 118-88 on Wednesday night
12:39AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
CEO says Harry hire is a natural fit, not a publicity stunt
The CEO of a firm that provides companies with mental health services and coaching says it hired Prince Harry because of his years of work on the issues it addresses
10:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
Women's soccer stars join Biden to promote closing pay gap
President Joe Biden is making the case that the pay disparity between men and women has hurt the economy
7:32PM ( 5 hours ago )
Tatis feeling better, could return soon to Padres lineup
Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was feeling better a day after coming out of a game due to discomfort in his left shoulder, leaving the San Diego Padres and their fans breathing easier
7:32PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Recording Registry adds albums by Janet Jackson, Nas
Janet Jackson’s socially conscious album “Rhythm Nation 1814,” Louis Armstrong’s jazzy “When the Saints Go Marching In” and Nas’ debut release “Illmatic” are among 25 recordings being inducted to the National Recording Registry
12:08AM ( 1 day ago )
Parents call for charges in drug death of Bobby Brown Jr
The parents of Bobby Brown Jr., son of singer Bobby Brown, say they want those responsible for his accidental overdose death held responsible
5:31PM ( 1 day ago )
Autopsy report: Bobby Brown's son died from drugs, alcohol
An autopsy report says that Bobby Brown Jr., the son of singer Bobby Brown, died from the combined effects of alcohol, cocaine and the opioid fentanyl
4:15PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online Recordings News
The Latest: Philippine leader orders mayors investigated
The Philippine president has ordered at least nine city and town mayors investigated for possible charges after they reportedly jumped ahead of a priority list led by 1.7 million health workers and got injected with COVID-19 vaccine amid a shortage in supply
11:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
AstraZeneca confirms strong vaccine protection after US rift
AstraZeneca insisted Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is strongly effective even after counting additional illnesses in its disputed U.S. study, the latest in an extraordinary public rift with American officials
11:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Hong Kong vaccination drive struggles to gain public trust
Hong Kong’s sudden suspension of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been another blow to its vaccination program
11:23PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
North Korea test-fires ballistic missiles in message to US
North Korea has test-fired its first ballistic missiles since President Joe Biden took office as it expands its military capabilities and increases pressure on Washington while nuclear negotiations remain stalled
12:58AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Mitchell scores 27, Jazz rout short-handed Nets 118-88
Donovan Mitchell scored 27 points and the Utah Jazz routed the short-handed Brooklyn Nets 118-88 on Wednesday night
12:39AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Buttigieg pitches infrastructure needs to divided Congress
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says America's infrastructure needs exceed $1 trillion and that other countries like China are pulling ahead
12:36AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Asian markets push higher despite tech sell-off on Wall St
Shares are mostly higher in Asia after a broad decline on Wall Street led by selling of tech heavyweights like Facebook and Apple
12:35AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Fox, Haliburton lift Kings past Hawks 110-108
De’Aaron Fox scored 37 points, Tyrese Haliburton made a pair of free throws with 36.6 seconds remaining and the Sacramento Kings beat the Atlanta Hawks 110-108
12:33AM ( 33 minutes ago )