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The People’s Republic of China is facing complications in its international relations from all corners.
Over the last year, several disputes have shattered the nation’s dignity at a global level, the boycott of H&M and Nike being the recent one.
Though the report of WHO on the origin of coronavirus has cleared the alleged conspiracy of China, the Director-General’s desire for further investigation in Wuhan evokes suspicion.
In recent times, the boycott of fashion brands like Nike and H&M over their past remarks on Xinjiang’s alleged forced labour has worsened China’s situation.
The alleged genocide of Uighur Muslims and Kazakhs in Xinjiang has led to a rally of sanctions between China and other countries. The wave of boycotting clothing items from H&M and Nike came after the sanctions imposed on Chinese officials by the UK, USA, EU & Canada. The sanctions imposed by the four countries aim to take stringent steps against officials involved in the alleged internment of Uighur ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
In this blog, we would disclose the reason behind the Boycott of Nike and H&M in China.
Furthermore, we would discuss the sanctions imposed by the Xinjiang issue and its interconnection with the current boycott.
The Xinjiang Dispute
Located in the North-western region of China, Xinjiang is one of the largest producers of the long-staple cotton in the world. With China handling the onus of one-fifth of cotton export globally, more than 80% of its exports come from the Xinjiang region. Xinjiang’s favorable climatic conditions and appropriate farming methods contribute to the large-scale production of cotton.
Over the past few years, several news agencies, the BBC, have alleged the human rights violation of Uighur ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. According to the BBC reports, the Chinese government is allegedly carrying out a horrendous genocide against Uighurs and Kazakhs in the Xinjiang region.
The Tale of Uighur Minorities in Xinjiang.
As reported by BBC, the issue of Uighur Muslims and Kazakhs get traced back to 2014. According to the report, the Chinese government started to curb and detain Uighur Muslims from 2014 until the current date over the extremism in Xinjiang.
The reports mention that the mass detention, rather than curbing extremism, was carried out to exploit human lives for economic gains. Several human rights that advocate for Uighur Muslims’ rights have underscored that around 11 million ethnic minorities face the wrath of the Chinese authoritarian government. With more than 1.2 million Uighurs and Kazakhs in alleged forced detention camps.
The reports and studies over the alleged genocide of the Uighur minorities are horrendous and disturbing. Henceforth it is suggested to navigate the reports available in the public domain only if you wish to dig deep into the alleged genocide.
Owing to the violation of human rights in the Xinjiang region, in July 2020, a coalition of more than 180 groups took a firm stand against the alleged atrocities in Xinjiang. The coalition released a report highlighting the role of the global fashion industry in the alleged human rights violation.
Xinjiang being the hub of cotton exports, production, and cheap labor attracts companies to set up their plants in the region. The coalition released the statistics revealing that around 20% of the cotton exports globally come from the Xinjiang region.
Furthermore, emphasizing the situation, it was disclosed that 1 in 5 cotton products that we use are the by-products of forced labor.
Referring to the alleged human rights violation, a list was released consisting of globally recognized establishments.
The list hits out at the companies over their indirect role in the genocide.
Some of the well-known names, Apple, Nike, H&M, Zara, Dell, Adidas, also got included in flagged companies.
Omer Kanat, director of Uyghur Human Rights, while referring to the flagged companies, said,
“Global brands need to ask themselves how comfortable they are contributing to a genocidal policy against the Uighur people. These companies have somehow managed to avoid scrutiny for collaboration in that very policy – this stops today” In synchronization with other 180 groups that advocate for the Uighur Muslims, his statement held the brands like Nike and H&M indirectly responsible for agonies of Uighurs.
Such severe allegations embarked on the conflict that led to the boycott of Nike and H&M recently.
Response of Nike and H&M.
Though the Swedish Fashion company, H&M, pulled off its previous statement that enraged the boycott movement, the resistance continues. In a statement released in 2020 after the coalition’s allegations, H&M indirectly criticized the use of forced labour in Xinjiang.
Furthermore, the company in 2020 clarified and accepted that though they imported products in the past from the disputed region, they had ceased their supply for future developments.
Apart from H&M, Nike’s statement also surfaced on the internet that pointed out the allegations of forced labour and genocide in Xinjiang. Though the date of the statement from the renowned shoe giant is unclear, it clears that the company has no tie-ups with suppliers from Xinjiang.
Instead of grabbing attention upon their release, the statements got viral after the EU, USA, Canada, and UK sanctions got imposed. That resulted in a nationwide boycott of H&M and Nike in China.
Impact on the companies:
The nationwide crackdown on the fashion apparel, Nike and H&M, impacts both the companies and the Chinese traders. According to CGTN, H&M stores reportedly got removed from the maps in China. Chinese companies like Alibaba and Tencent removed H&M from their digital stores.
Furthermore, the operations of at least 20 H&M outlets ceased because of the crackdown of locals.
According to several economists and financial experts, the resistance movement could harm the Products’ supply chain if it continued for an extended period.