Cartoon illustrates frustrations over false claims about Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. LUO JIE/CHINA DAILY
Recently, some Western companies, including H&M and Nike, have come under fire due to their boycott of cotton produced in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
A statement from H&M said that “it was deeply concerned about reports ... that include accusations of forced labor” in Xinjiang, which is based on false information.
Many were enraged that these large companies profit off of Chinese consumers while simultaneously defaming the country.
Such arguments have led to the creation of the “I support Xinjiang cotton” campaign, popular on Sina Weibo, and the boycott of these Western brands.
On China’s major e-commerce platforms, including Taobao and JD.com, all products and search results related to H&M were cleared. Wang Yibo, who was previously a brand ambassador for Nike, has pulled out of his deal. And he’s not alone. This issue has divided companies and consumers across the country.
But why is Xinjiang cotton being targeted?
According to China Daily, those brands’ claims followed the industry requirements set by Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). It is a Switzerland-based cotton organization with 2,100 members worldwide, including famous brands like Nike, Adidas and Burberry. In 2020, the BCI said it would stop cooperation with licensed farmers in Xinjiang because there are “crimes” against human rights such as forced labor.
This is a complete lie, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The so-called “Xinjiang Uygur question” is nothing but a way for the US to weaken China from the inside, said Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on March 26.
China is the world’s second-largest cotton producer now and Xinjiang accounts for nearly 90 percent of the country’s cotton output. However, the increase in China’s cotton production and the growing textile industry are making some in the West nervous, said Xinhua.
Since the BCI is funded by many council members from the US and European countries, by initiating its Xinjiang cotton boycott, the real aim is to strike at China’s cotton and textile industry and further at China’s economy.
In response to the Xinjiang cotton boycott, Xu Guixiang, spokesperson for the government of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, said that enterprises should not politicize economic behavior.
Almire Tursun, who is from Kuqa city in Xinjiang’s Aksu prefecture and now works for a textile company, said the foreign forces neither visited her company nor knew the real situation.
What they say is made up in order to destroy the jobs of people such as her, and such a move is shameful and hateful, she added.