Nike, H&M and other major brands are facing boycotts and furious backlashes on Chinese social media after stating they held concerns about the forced labour of Uighurs.
Chinese users on Weibo, the country’s answer to Twitter, have posted videos of themselves burning their Nike trainers and calling the brand’s statements “disgusting”.
Prominent celebrities including Wang Yibo, who found international fame through period drama The Untamed and has a whopping 38 million Weibo followers, terminated his contract with Nike over its “attempts to smear China”.
Chinese top idol Wang Yibo Thursday terminated contracts with @Nike.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) March 25, 2021
The backlash exploded across Weibo on Thursday, seeing over 1 million conversations about the brand spread in just six hours.
It comes after the UK, EU, US and Canada voted to impose sanctions on China this week amid ongoing reports of forced labour, mass sterilisation of women and a raft of other human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
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In response government affiliated groups posted historical statements from Nike, H&M, Adidas, Gap, Fila, New Balance, Zara, and Under Armour expressing their concerns about using cotton from the Xinjiang region on social media, alleging they were “spreading rumours to boycott Xianjiang cotton”.
The brands have now been added to a “blacklist” seeing Chinese shoppers boycott the brands entirely, and many have been removed from online shopping sites.
Many posts from Weibo users, which state this “was a matter of national pride”, have been shared over 100,000 times.
“We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR),” Nike’s statement read.
“Nike does not source products from the XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region.”