China warns companies against politicising actions regarding Xinjiang

WION Web Team
Beijing, China Published: Mar 29, 2021, 09:01 AM(IST)

An H&M store in a shopping area in Beijing Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

A spokesman for the regional government of Xinjiang told reporters Monday that a company should not politicise its economic behaviour and said H&M won't be able to make money anymore in the Chinese market because of its statement.

Chinese officials have asked Sweden's H&M and other foreign companies facing a backlash in the country after raising concerns about forced labour in Xinjiang to look into the issue seriously and not politicise their economic behaviour.

H&M, Burberry, Nike and Adidas and other western brands have been hit by consumer boycotts in China since last week over comments about their sourcing of cotton in Xinjiang. 

The growing rift comes as the United States and other Western governments increase pressure on China over suspected human rights abuses in the western region.

China has repeatedly denied all such charges and say the camps are for vocational training and combating religious extremism.

Chinese social media users last week began circulating a 2020 statement by H&M announcing it would no longer source cotton from Xinjiang.

H&M said at the time the decision was due to difficulties conducting credible due diligence in the region and after media and human rights' groups reported the use of forced labour in Xinjiang.

A spokesman for the regional government of Xinjiang told reporters Monday that a company should not politicise its economic behaviour and said H&M won't be able to make money anymore in the Chinese market because of its statement.

Also read | Washington condemns China's 'baseless sanctions' against US officials over Xinjiang

Another Xinjiang government spokesman said during the briefing that Chinese people do not want the products of companies such as H&M and Nike that have boycotted Xinjiang's cotton. He invited companies to take trips to the region's cotton fields to see for themselves what is happening.

Washington on Friday condemned what it called a "state-led" social media campaign in China against US and other international companies for committing not to use cotton from Xinjiang.

The wave of consumer boycotts in China has coincided with a coordinated set of sanctions imposed by Britain, Canada, the European Union and the United States last week over what they say are human rights abuses taking place in Xinjiang. 

Also, the US government has publically accused Beijing of genocide against the Uighur Muslim ethnic minorities in the region.

The United States in January announced an import ban on all cotton and tomato products from the area due to allegations of forced labour from detained Uighur Muslims.

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