Several H&M stores in China closed after a storm of criticism over the fashion chain’s political statements, the news agency reported. Bloomberg. The Swedish company previously stated that it is extremely concerned about signs that Uyghurs are being forced into forced labor in cotton production in Xinjiang. On social media, H&M, along with other Western brands, has become a target of many Chinese ire.
At least six H&M stores are closed in Lianyungang, Changchun and Yinchuan cities. Chinese media reported that more branches of the retail chain have been closed. Shopping malls say property owners have criticized H&M stores because they believe the company has offended China.
After H&M announced that it would not use cotton from Xinjiang, many Chinese called for a boycott of the company. This also has consequences in the digital realm. The branches of the chain can no longer be found on Apple Maps and Maps from Baidu, Google’s Chinese counterpart. Earlier, H&M’s name disappeared for unclear reasons from an important e-commerce platform belonging to the Chinese company Alibaba.
China has been accused for years of suppressing the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang, which is also an important cotton region. Human rights activists and UN experts say, among others, that Uyghurs are imprisoned, tortured, sterilized in camps, and forced into forced labor. The Beijing government denies this, claiming that extremist Uyghurs and terrorists are being re-educated in the camps.
American sports brands Nike and Under Armor are also a target of Chinese protests due to their statements about the situation in Xinjiang, just like Puma and Adidas from Germany. The clothing store chain Burberry Uniqlo has also attracted the ire of many Chinese. At least 27 movie and pop stars from the Asian country have canceled their collaborations with foreign brands due to criticism of human rights violations in Xinjiang.