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Chinese Stars Snub Western Brands Hugo Boss, Burberry, and H&M Over Xinjiang Row

Chinese Stars Snub Western Brands Hugo Boss, Burberry, and H&M Over Xinjiang Row

More Western brands are facing backlash in China as they get caught in the international crossfire over Beijing's treatment of Muslims in the country's Xinjiang region.

What Happened: On Saturday, Chinese celebrities snubbed Hugo Boss AG (OTC: BOSSY) after the German fashion house issued a statement regarding forced labor in Xinjiang, Bloomberg reports. 

Chinese actor and singer Li Yifeng said on his Weibo Corp (NASDAQ: WB) social media account that he was ending his relationship with Hugo Boss. Singers Zhu Zhengting and Wang Linkai also indicated on Weibo that they will stop working with Hugo Boss. 

This was after Hugo Boss said in an official statement, "The company does not tolerate forced labor and insists that its global suppliers follow suit. The company has not procured any goods originating in the Xinjiang region from direct suppliers." 

Similarly, Chinese actor Zhou Dongyu has ended her brand ambassador role with Burberry Group (OTC: BURBY), The Guardian reports. 

The Swedish clothing company H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB (OTC: HMRZF) also came under fire in the Xinjiang row last week. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and shopping app Meituan also have removed H&M from listings, and search engine company Baidu has removed H&M from a maps app, Reuters reports. 

According to a New York Times report, H&M posted a statement on its website last September stating the company was "deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of forced labor and discrimination of ethno-religious minorities" in Xinjiang, adding it would no longer procure cotton from the region.

Other overseas brands, including Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE), and adidas A.G. (OTC: ADDYY), have also faced online backlash for their statements regarding the sourcing of cotton in Xinjiang.

Other brands which have come under fire in China for saying they would not use Xinjiang cotten are New Balance, Under Armour Inc (NYSE: UAA), PVH Corp's (NYSE: PVH) Tommy Hilfiger brand, Puma S.E. (OTC: PUMSY), Fast Retailing's (OTC: FRCOY) Uniqlo, and Converse, owned by Nike.

Why It Matters: The backlash was sparked by an international outcry over reports that forced labor in Xinjiang is used to feed products into the global supply chains of major corporations. As Western brands sought to distance themselves from any appearance of using products from Xinjiang, a counter-backlash grew among consumers in China, upset at the accusations against their country.

U.N. rights experts have accused China of engaging in mass detainment, torture and forced labor of Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group, in Xinjiang. The U.S. has accused China of instigating social media campaigns to boycott U.S. and other international companies that refuse to use cotton from Xinjiang. 

However, China denies these claims and says its actions in the region are necessary to counter extremism.

China on Saturday announced sanctions against two U.S. officials, a Canadian lawmaker and a Canadian parliamentary subcommittee in response to what Beijing said was "coordinated action" taken by the two countries last week over China's treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Photo by Jules D. on Unsplash.


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