At least one Chinese online retailer appeared to drop H&M’s products amid social media attacks on the Swedish company for saying that it was “deeply concerned” about reports of forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region.
The Britain, Canada, the EU and the US on Monday imposed sanctions on Chinese officials, accusing them of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
China retaliated with sanctions on European lawmakers and institutions.
H&M had previously said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of forced labor” and that it did not source products from Xinjiang.
It was not immediately clear why an old statement from H&M, which media had reported last year, about the cotton-producing region was back in the public eye.
H&M’s official store on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s (阿里巴巴) Tmall (天貓), an e-commerce platform, was not accessible yesterday.
The official People’s Daily reported that searches for H&M products on platforms JD.com Inc (京東) and Pinduoduo Inc (拼多多) no longer showed any results.
Reporters were unable to determine if such products were previously available.
China is H&M’s fourth-biggest market with sales of 2.9 billion kronor (US$337 million) in the 12 months through November last year.
H&M also said in its original statement that it would phase out its relationship with a Chinese supplier accused of forced labor.
A graphic in a commentary from China Central Television that criticized the company over its stance said that “H&M you are no longer at all fashionable.”
Some people on social media called for H&M to leave China and for a boycott.
“It is so shameless to smear Xinjiang and we don’t buy your products,” one person wrote.
H&M declined to comment.
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