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China urges global fashion brands to reverse Xinjiang cotton boycott

"China presses global fashion brands to reverse Xinjiang cotton boycott", 25 March 2021

The Chinese government added to the backlash against foreign brands boycotting Xinjiang cotton, pressing the companies to “correct their mistakes” and respect the views of Chinese customers.

The ministries of foreign affairs and commerce upped the rhetorical ante on Thursday as more brands came under fire for refusing to buy Xinjiang cotton over claims of genocide and forced labour in the region.

“Chinese people do not allow some foreigners to eat Chinese food while smashing Chinese bowls,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

Commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Beijing opposed external interference in Xinjiang, and that Xinjiang cotton could not be tarnished.

“Chinese consumers have responded with concrete actions to the so-called business decisions made by individual companies based on false information,” he said. “It is hoped that relevant companies will respect the laws of the market, correct wrong practices and avoid politicising commercial issues”.

The list of foreign firms embroiled in the controversy continued to grow on Thursday, with American shoe brand Converse and apparel firm Phillips-Van Heusen, which owns Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, joining the ranks of brands being boycotted by Chinese consumers.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce said it would not comment on individual cases, but added that European firms were between “a rock and a hard place” because of “increased politicisation of business”. [...]

In a social media post on Thursday, Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily named the British luxury brand Burberry, Nike, New Balance and Adidas as companies that did not source Xinjiang cotton.

“There are many foreign companies that have released statements which ‘cut ties’ with Xinjiang cotton in the past two years. This included the Better Cotton Initiative members Burberry, Adidas, Nike, New Balance and others,” said the post published on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter. [...]

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