Major Companies are Facing Backlash in China Over Stance on Uyghur Muslim Labor Camps

Over the past few years, China has detained more than a million Uyghur Muslims, holding them in detention facilities in the region of Xinjiang. There have been reports of forced labor and sterilization within the facilities, called “re-education camps” by the Chinese government, that have led the US to enforce sanctions against China and declare actions taken as a genocide. One of these sanctions is halting the importation of cotton from the Xinjiang region, which makes about a fifth of the world’s supply.

Western companies, including Nike and H&M, issued statements saying they did not support and were disturbed by reports of actions taken against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. They also confirmed that they no longer (or never did) use cotton produced in the Xinjiang region in their products.

Now, state-owned media in China has created the hashtag “SupportXJCotton,” and many in China are boycotting brands that have spoken out against the government’s actions. Chinese celebrities got rid of contracts with some of these brands as the movement picked up.

Faced with Western pressure to condemn the actions of the Chinese government and pressure from China to “stay out of it,” these major companies are finding it difficult to please consumers and sell in both the Chinese and Western markets.