Chinas best app to call taxis has canceled Swedish fashion retailer H&M from its lists as Chinese celebrities have stopped endorsing foreign labels in a growing uproar over Western accusations of human rights in Xinjiang.
H&M faced a public backlash in China when social media users in the country circulated a statement the company issued last year announcing that it would no longer source cotton from Xinjiang after reports of Uyghur Muslims using forced labor.
Western governments and rights groups accused authorities in the Far Western Region of detaining and torturing Uighurs in the camps, with some former prisoners saying they were subjected to ideological indoctrination.
Beijing denies the accusations and describes the camps in question as vocational training centers that help fight religious extremism.
Search results for H&M in the Didi Chuxing app for all major cities in China did not yield any results last Friday. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The backlash against H&M caused Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, shopping app Meituan, and search engine mapping app Baidu Inc to remove the Swedish retailer from their listings.
Other foreign brands, including Burberry Group PLC, Nike Inc and Adidas AG, have faced a backlash online for making similar statements regarding cotton sourcing in Xinjiang.
The H&M website’s human rights division has ceased to carry the link since Friday to the 2020 statement on Xinjiang. The statement can still be accessed through the direct address of the page.
Statements expressing concern or intolerance about forced labor in Xinjiang, previously seen on the websites of Inditex, VF Corp, PVH, Abercrombie & Fitch, are no longer available since last Thursday.
In a statement, VF Corp. referred to a separate section of its website in which it said it was not originated from Xinjiang. Google’s cache showed that the statement had been added in the past four days. The VF did not respond to a question asking why the statement was transmitted.
PVH, Inditex, and Abercrombie & Fitch did not respond to a request for comment.
“We have to stand with brands who keep statements condemning slavery and shaming those who overthrow it.” Said French MP Raphael Glucksmann, a member of the European Parliament, one of the 10 EU members sanctioned by China, who ran campaigns on social media calling on retailers to Stand against forced labor in Xinjiang, “This is a defining moment for these brands.”
“Consumers in Europe need to put counter pressure on companies that drop their data.”