China says H&M should look into Xinjiang issue seriously amid boycott

Swedish fashion retailer H&M should look into the Xinjiang issue seriously, a Chinese official said on Monday, as the company faces a consumer boycott over comments made last year about labour conditions in the western Chinese region.

H&M is facing a public backlash in China since last week, when social media users circulated a statement the company made in 2020 announcing it would no longer source cotton from Xinjiang. H&M said 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.

China has repeatedly denied the allegations, as well as accusations of other human rights abuses against Uighur Muslim minorities in the region.

Xu Guixiang, a spokesman for the regional government of Xinjiang, told reporters 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.

Xu on Monday also accused the United States, Britain, the European Union and Canada of engaging in political manipulation to destabilise China following their coordinated sanctions imposed against Beijing last week over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

  • Reporting by Cate Cadell; writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Lincoln Feast, of Reuters.

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