Chinese officials on Monday said Sweden's H&M and other foreign companies should not make rash moves or step into politics after the companies raised concerns about forced labor in Xinjiang, sparking furious online backlash and boycotts.
Chinese officials on Monday (March 29) said Western brands like H&M and Nike need to stay out of politics after the companies raised concerns about forced labor in Xinjiang.
Chinese social media users last week began circulating a 2020 statement by H&M announcing it would no longer source cotton from the area.
Since then H&M has seen public backlash and boycotts in China along with Nike, Burberry, Adidas and others.
Xu Guixiang is a spokesman for Xinjiang's government.
“I don't think a company should politicize its economic behaviour… Can H&M continue to make money in the Chinese market?
Not any more." It comes as the U.S. and other Western governments ratchet up pressure on China over the suspected abuse of human rights.
Those nations and rights groups have previously accused authorities in Xinjiang of detaining and torturing Uighur Muslims in camps where some former inmates have said they were subject to ideological indoctrination.
China has repeatedly denied all such charges and say the camps are for vocational training and combating religious extremism.
Another government spokesman said during Monday's briefing that Chinese people do not want products from companies that have boycotted Xinjiang’s cotton.
One Beijing resident told Reuters they agreed.
"Us Chinese people are very patriotic.
If these brands maintain their position or refuse to apologise then I also fully support the move to boycott these brands." On Friday, Washington condemned what it called a "state-led" social media campaign against the brands.