Chinese authorities said on Monday that Sweden’s H&M (ST: HMb ) and other foreign companies should not take rash action or get involved in politics, after the companies raised concerns about forced labor in Xinjiang. , prompting furious social media reactions and boycotts.
H&M, Burberry (LON: BRBY ), Nike (NYSE: NKE ) and Adidas (DE: ADSGN ) and other Western brands have been hit by consumer boycotts in China since last week over comments on their cotton sourcing. in Xinjiang. The growing dispute comes at a time when the United States and other Western governments are increasing pressure on China over suspected human rights violations in the western region.
“I don’t think a company should politicize its economic behavior,” Xu Guixiang, a spokesman for the Xinjiang government, told a news conference Monday morning. “Can H&M continue to make money in the Chinese market? Not anymore.”
“To rush into this decision and get involved in sanctions is unreasonable. It is like picking up a stone only to drop it on one’s feet,” he said.
Last week, Chinese social media users began spreading H&M’s 2020 statement announcing that it would stop sourcing cotton from Xinjiang.
H&M said then that the decision was due to difficulties in carrying out a credible review in the region and after the media and human rights groups denounced the use of forced labor in Xinjiang, an accusation that Beijing has repeatedly denied.
Elijan Anayat, another spokesman for the Xinjiang government, said during the press conference that the Chinese people do not want the products of companies like H&M and Nike that have boycotted Xinjiang cotton. He also said that he invites companies to take trips to the region’s cotton fields to see for themselves what is happening.