Why Chinese consumers boycott H&M, Nike and other brands?

H&M faces resistance. Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Nike, Converse and Calvin Klein have all lost their brand ambassadors. Burberry had to abandon an online video game cooperation plan.
These brands suddenly felt the anger of Chinese consumers, who have been clamoring to buy their products for years and have paid for it. Instigated by the ruling Communist Party, Chinese online activists are punishing some foreign companies that have joined the ranks of calling for the avoidance of Xinjiang cotton because the Chinese authorities are launching a widespread crackdown on ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
The US government and human rights organizations say that there is more and more evidence that cotton from Xinjiang is related to forced labor and mass detention of up to 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim minorities.
It is unclear what long-term impact China’s boycott might have on Western companies that rely on China to produce or buy their products. Last Thursday, shoppers still flocked to the popular H&M and Nike stores in Shanghai and Beijing. The previous campaign to put pressure on companies such as Apple, Starbucks and Volkswagen, promoted by the official media, did not ultimately weaken China’s demand for these companies’ products.
Nevertheless, as Beijing officials find ways to refute foreign criticism, the position of these companies in China may become increasingly unstable. Moreover, it is China's usual practice to show one's economic strength for political purposes. "Chinese people do not allow foreigners to eat Chinese food while smashing China's bowls," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Beijing on Thursday. She seems to have borrowed from China's supreme leader Xi Jinping's 2014 request for people to respond. The CCP’s loyal expression: “It’s never allowed to eat or smash the CCP’s pot.”
At a Nike store in Shanghai, 20-year-old student Yang Meilu said she came in because she wanted to see how many customers there would be.
Ms. Yang said that Nike’s concern about Xinjiang’s labor issues made her deeply disturbed. She said that she is now skeptical of the brand. "May not buy in the future," she said.
In order to obtain cotton, these companies will almost certainly need to purchase from Xinjiang, where 87% of China's cotton is produced. About one out of every five cotton garments sold globally contains cotton or yarn from Xinjiang.
The Trump administration’s announcement of a ban on imports of cotton from Xinjiang and all products made with Xinjiang’s cotton has created pressure for brands to check their supply chains. Human rights organizations such as the Uyghur Human Rights Project have also been pushing U.S. lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation to block imports of products from Xinjiang unless these companies can prove that there is no forced labor in their supply chain.
A shopping mall in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, closed an H&M store and urged the company to formally apologize to the local people. In the southwestern city of Chengdu, staff removed the H&M logo on a store.
 

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