China attacks foreign clothing, shoe brands over Xinjiang
All Chinese e-commerce applications have removed the brand from their catalog after H&M announced that it no longer wanted to source cotton from Xinjiang.
As of March 25, it is much more difficult to find H&M items online in China. Industry giants have retaliated against the Swedish brand after taking a stand in favor of Uyghurs a few weeks ago.
As the announcement, the official press organ of the Chinese Communist Party, research related to H&M on the sites Taobao and Tmall, main players in Chinese e-commerce and both belonging to the Alibaba group, is no longer conclusive. It is the same with competitors, including JD.com or Pinduoduo.
A partnership with Alibaba in 2017
As the American site reminds us, the model of distribution through third-party sites – in particular thanks to marketplaces – is used by H&M in China, while the textile giant is better known for online distribution or on its own application in the West. The brand, which however has nearly 450 stores in the country, a partnership with Tmall in 2017.
H&M is the target of a broad boycott after announcing that it no longer wants to source cotton from Xinjiang, which accounts for 20% of the world supply. The region is at the heart of diplomatic battles between China and Western countries, which accuse Beijing of imprisoning and forcing into forced labor the Uyghurs, the country’s Muslim minority. Accusations denied en bloc by Beijing.
In 2020, an American report mentioned a coercive cotton collection program applied to nearly 600,000 Uyghurs.
If Alibaba, it is the same for the main tech giants of the country. For example, the health passport launched by China is offered within the WeChat app, owned by Tencent. These links sometimes have consequences for the image of the Chinese digital giants.
At the end of 2020, French footballer Antoine Griezmann had broken his contract with Huawei, after a report of the company developing a facial recognition system for the benefit of the Chinese government. The goal: to identify the faces of Uyghurs using an algorithm.