Since March 24, 2021, Chinese netizens began to post a large number of articles on the Internet to boycott the well-known clothing brand H&M, and other major brands such as NIKE, adidas, ZARA, even burning clothing and sneakers to express their determination. Subsequently, the entertainers also stated that they would terminate the endorsement cooperation with those major labels. What happened?
H&M gave off a statement to ban Xinjiang cotton
Around October last year, H&M gave off a statement, “Because Xinjiang is said to have forced ethnic minorities to perform labor, and BCI (Better Cotton Development Association) stopped sending certification for Xinjiang’s cotton, H&M will also stop using it.” The appearance of this statement immediately aroused the anger of a large number of Chinese netizens on the Internet, and then began various boycott activities.
What is BCI
BCI is a non-profit international organization with more than 1,800 brand members. The main purpose of its organization is to promote good cotton planting standards and friendly production processes. One of them is to confirm that the production line is friendly to farmers and the environment.
Xinjiang cotton was certified by BCI. However, due to the recent reports of forced labor and human rights violations in Xinjiang, and Chinese officials did not open the Xinjiang region to allow BCI to enter for investigation. So BCI issued a report in March 2020 to Stop the certification of Xinjiang cotton, and its member brands such as H&M, NIKE, ZARA, etc. have also gave off statements saying that they will stop using Xinjiang cotton.
What is the real reason that China boycott H&M?
So in fact, it was last year to stop using Xinjiang cotton. Why didn’t Chinese netizens start boycotting H&M and other brands until this year? The international consensus is that it was because on March 22, 2021, the European Union stated that it would impose sanctions on China due to human rights issues and this resulted in China’s counterattack against EU sanctions with the Xinjiang Cotton incident on March 24.
《Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act》
In addition to BCI stop giving certification to Xinjiang cotton, the U.S. House of Representatives also formally passed the “Prevention of Forced Uyghur Labor Law” on September 22, 2020, which stipulates that the import of all products from Xinjiang is prohibited unless the company provides clear and convincing information which proves that there is no forced labor in their supply chain. Therefore, many manufacturers have to stop using Xinjiang cotton.
What other brands boycott Xinjiang cotton?
There are about two hundred brands affected in this Chinese boycott, and most of them have cooperative relations with BCI, such as NIKE, Adidas, PUMA, CK, UNIQLO, GU, New Balance, ZARA and so on.
Follow-up statements by brands
After the boycott began, many brands immediately stated that they would put out the fire. For example, MUJI specifically marked the clothing as made of Xinjiang cotton on its official website, and Inditex quietly removed its previous statement of not using Xinjiang cotton. On the other hand, there are also brands that have expressed resistance to China’s boycott. German fashion brand Hugo Boss once posted on Weibo that Xinjiang long-staple cotton is one of the best cotton in the world, and they will continue to purchase and support Xinjiang cotton. However, the company withdrew the relevant statement on March 27 and reiterated that it has not directly purchased any products from the Xinjiang region so far, and will re-check whether Xinjiang cotton meets global standards from October 2021. The company will Ensure that products only use cotton or other materials that meet their standards.
Impact on the entertainment industry
This incident caused many artists to express their opinions, such as Eason Chan, Joey Yung, and Chen Xiaochun all voiced their support for Xinjiang Cotton on Weibo. The studios of Yang Mi, Di Lieba, Peng Yuyan and others even issued a statement saying that they would terminate their endorsement cooperation with Adidas, while other non-committal artists such as Jolin Tsai and Ku Ling were attacked by Chinese netizens.