Western Brands Under Attack! – Here’s Why Chinese Consumers Suddenly Boycott H&M And Nike Over Xinjiang Cotton

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Mar 25 2021
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If you boycott Xinjiang cotton, we’ll boycott you – said an internet user. That angry Chinese consumer is just one of 1.4 billion consumers in China who has started a nationwide boycott of Swedish fashion giant H&M. However, the attack against the world’s second-largest clothing retailer was first started when the Chinese Communist Party’s Youth League posted a message on social media.


“Spreading rumours to boycott Xinjiang cotton while also wanting to make money in China? Wishful thinking!” – read the post, and all hell breaks loose. That post on Weibo, the Chinese micro-blogging website equivalent to Twitter, immediately gained half a million “likes” and shared 50,000 times while attracted 16,000 comments on Wednesday morning alone.


The hashtag – “I support Xinjiang cotton” – has gone so viral that it was read more than 1 billion times. In fact, one of the most-liked Weibo comments said – “H&M clothes are rags. They don’t deserve our Xinjiang cotton!” State broadcaster CCTV accused foreign brands of “earning big profits in China but attacking the country with lies at the same time.”

HM - Hennes and Mauritz AB - China

If you think this is just a naughty rhetoric from the communist party, think again. On the same Wednesday (March 24), H&M’s products disappeared from Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao and JD.com. Two popular actors, in a show of patriotism, have cut ties with the Swedish multinational clothing-retail company known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children.


Actor Huang Xuan said on his official Weibo page he had terminated his contract as a representative for H&M. The 36-year-old Chinese actor said he opposed “slander and creating rumours”. Victoria Song Qian, a Chinese singer, dancer, actress, model and television presenter, said she no longer had a relationship with H&M and “the country’s interests are above all”.


Apparently, H&M said last year that it would not source cotton from Xinjiang and was ending its relationship with a Chinese yarn producer over “forced labour” accusations involving Uighur Muslims. H&M issued the statement after think tank – the Australian Strategic Policy Institute – released a report which listed H&M as potentially benefitting from forced labour.

HM - Hennes and Mauritz AB - Huang Xuan and Victoria Song Qian

Caught completely by surprise, H&M China promptly released a statement on Wednesday night, saying it “does not represent any political position” and remains committed to long-term investment in China. But the damage is already done. It is paying the price for boycotting Xinjiang cotton based on a report from a defence and strategic policy think tank funded by the Australian Department of Defence.


China is H&M’s fourth-biggest market with sales of 2.9 billion Swedish crowns (US$339 million) in the 12 months through Nov 2020. Global Times reported that only a few customers had gone inside the biggest H&M store in Sanlintun, one of Beijing’s major commercial areas. Another H&M store in a business district in Shanghai has increased security as boycott gains steam.


A Beijing resident surnamed Zhao said – “Boycotting H&M will not have any impact on people like me, because there are many alternative choices. Many domestic brands have good designs, and I shop on Taobao to buy clothes most of the time, where the styles and quality are much better and prices are much lower than these brands.”

Xinjiang Cotton

Clearly, the old statement from H&M has come back to haunt the Swedish company after the European Union, together with the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, imposed sanctions against 4 Chinese officials on Monday. In a swift retaliation, China imposed sanctions against 10 European politicians and four bodies on the same day, shocking the EU.


The EU has accused the Chinese officials of “arbitrary detentions and degrading treatment inflicted upon Uighurs and people from other Muslim ethnic minorities”. Activists and U.N. rights experts claimed at least 1 million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has been accused of using torture, forced labour and sterilizations.


As Western countries seek to hold Beijing accountable for mass detentions of Muslim Uighurs, the U.S. has gone one step further – accusing Beijing of committing genocide. However, China says its camps provide vocational training and are necessary to fight extremism. The Muslim Uighur separatists had previously committed terrorism, including the hijack of Tianjin Airlines Flight 7554.

An Estimated 114 Muslim Uighurs From Xinjiang Have Joined ISIS

Hitting back with a similar sanctions, only on a broader scope, the China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told the European Union to stop lecturing others on human rights and interfering in their internal affairs. Besides mocking the EU of being hypocritical and practising double standards, it has also warned of further actions. And those actions turned out as boycotts on Western brands.


Of course, H&M is not the only company being targeted in what seems to be a coordinated assault on the Western countries. Within hours, Nike, an American multinational corporation, suffers the same backlash from Chinese consumers over a statement it made previously that it was concerned about reports of forced labour in Xinjiang, and said it would not source textiles from the region.


Like H&M, which operates more than 500 stores in China, Nike had also reacted to the same report produced by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute that said Nike’s factory employed around 800 Uighur workers at the end of 2019 and produced more than 7 million pairs of shoes for Nike each year. Later, Nike said its Qingdao factory had stopped hiring new workers from Xinjiang in 2019.

China Xinjiang Province - Map

While Xinjiang is the epicentre of minority Uighur Muslims whom the Western governments repeatedly alleged of being abused by the Chinese government, the province also produces vast amounts of raw materials like cotton, sugar, tomatoes, coal and polysilicon, as well as supplies workers for China’s apparel and footwear factories like U.S. sportswear giant Nike.


The boycott over the Nike statement was among the highest trending topics on Weibo, so much so that Wang Yibo terminated his contract as a representative for Nike. The 23-year-old Wang is a popular Chinese actor, dancer, singer, rapper, TV host, and professional motorcycle racer. He wrote to his 38 million followers on Weibo – “I firmly oppose any act to smear China,”


Similarly, 30-year-old actress Tan Songyun, who has 23 million followers on Weibo, also announced the termination of her contract with Nike. The Communist Youth League of China has also shortlisted Adidas, New Balance, IKEA, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Burberry as other Western brands that are members of the “Better Cotton Initiative”, which suspended the cotton sourced from Xinjiang in early 2020.

Nike Ambassador - Wang Yibo

Some internet users said they would stop buying American brand Nike and instead support local brands such as Li Ning and Anta, while others told Adidas to leave China. Taking advantage of the situation, Anta Sports, the Chinese sneaker giant that owns the Fila brand, said it would continue to use cotton from Xinjiang. Even Japanese retailer Muji began to advertise products made with “Xinjiang cotton”.


The move by the government of President Xi Jinping was not only designed to punish Western businesses in China, but also to send a message – stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. The Commerce Ministry said – “Chinese consumers have acted in response to the so-called business decisions made by some companies based on false information”.


If there’s one war Beijing is cocksure of winning, it’s definitely the consumer boycotts fought on its own turf. This is not the first time China drove such campaign to punish foreign companies. Consumer boycotts are among its favourite tools of retaliation, simply because it works by leveraging on the country’s massive spending power to inflict economic damage on foreign brands.

THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) Missile Systems - Launching

South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group was forced to exit from China, following a political dispute between the two nations over Seoul’s installation of a US anti-missile system – Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) – in 2017. Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, the NBA, the English Premier League, Apple and even model Gigi Hadid have suffered boycott in China.


Luca Solca, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said – “Companies caught in the crossfire can be heavily penalized, as they end up in China on the wrong side of consumer preferences, social media commentary, and e-commerce platforms. European mass fashion retailers are torn between this and having to stand on the right side of western consumers’ concerns.”


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You simply have to do the rotflmao these dumb companies wanting money from the Chinese but yet offending them without a thought. The style of offence is called cutting your nose to spite your face.

The greatest weapon the Chinese have is not emptying their pockets, something intellectually-enlightened Chinese worldwide practise. It’s very different from what the Chinese in Malaysia practise, which is getting things for nothing, grab as much as you can, and demand two free gifts rudely.

That’s why Chinese Malaysians always get properly ass-fcuked when grabbing something for nothing or lots of something for nothing – or when they apply their laws of Kiasuism when picking politicians. That’s how they ended up with the pretend-Malays of the Lim Lynasty and their bunch of DAP evangelical hijabi-habibi monkeys. And that’s how the Lim Lynasty and its bunch of Snake Pharaoh running dogs end up with getting ass-fcuked by Dr Monster.

You can’t beat them Chinese for their national pride, for being rightly chauvinistic, and most of all, being politically savvy. The average Chinese would have one or more or all of the qualities the average Chinese Malaysian, as a fcuking glorified coolie, peasant or mine-digger hasn’t got – but yet strut around thinking he has, plus two free gifts.

Malaysians were taught a good lesson when the DAP’s atuk grandpa told the world he was going to lecture the Chinese about “debt traps” and demand the Chinese buy our palm oil, durians, and birds’ nest.

Being a fcuking arrogant and deluded teh tarik salesman that the Chinese would see in him, the sarabat stall performer zombie got promptly told to fcuk off by the Chinese imperial majesties and balik Kerala. The Snake Pharaoh suffered a massive heavy loss of face, his cronies could not get their cuts in any deal – and Malaysians had to design recipes for 2001 use of palm oil – plus drinking it two-tablespoons five times a day for years to come.

Then we have our freaking deluded Chinese use chauvinism by cooking up the story that the Chinese would only negotiate palm oil with only one of a much-worshipped Malaysian Chinese tycoon (who also had plenty of palm oil he couldn’t flog…). Although one of the tokongs Chinese Malaysians worship, China’s Chinese also told the Chinese Malaysian “deity” to fcuk off.

Anyway, the moral of the story is the angmohs should have first consulted the DAP’s atuk zombie grandpa on how to deal with the Chinese, and learn the painful art of being told to sit down – or stand, or kneel and stfu.

Well, we’re gonna see the arrogant and politically-delusional angmoh uncles suffer the death of a thousand and one cut, salami slices, the Chinese have begun retaliating, soon boycotting those said products would be a national sport. In any war with the Chinese, their money scream almighty power! For what we know, Chinese elsewhere may jolly well join in the fun and thrill of making the angmohs squeal as their pockets shrink and big mouths go into kowtow mode.

My bet is the Chinese win. But I would still park those aircraft carriers and all far from China, angmohs have gone rather too far this time, and I don’t mean just sailing their boats all the long way to near China…

Frankly, I’d quite love a war, Covid’s made life here boring, you don’t need to imagine what being cooped up with fcuking arseh *le shit4brain Malaysian political monkeys is like. Even better, Malaysia might get drawn in if there’s a lovely regional war with China. You might see the little red dot nuked, and it would be sad to see the Chosen Wans go to war, they’re the only wans allowed in large bands of bros, sacrifice for god, king, and kampong… The local Chinese would turn to war profiteering, or if China’s military gets off their boats, surrender and shout “Welcome dear cousins!” – in our own version of “Mandarin lah” the rest of the world cannot understand…

To surrender to the Chinese uncles, , use large white sheets, Xinjiang cotton naturally. The sheets doubles as burial shrouds, Alhamdulilah!

Imagine! if every Chinese just spend RMB1 (15 cents US, equivalent to 1 dime + 1 nickel) to buy your product, you will make sales of RMB1,400,000,000 (US$214 million).

What we are seeing is just China and Chinese exercising their freedom to purchase or not to purchase.

The West treasures “freedom” above all else. Chinese are free to exercise their freedom too.

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