H&M Purged From Chinese Maps and Online Stores for Criticizing Forced Labor in Xinjiang
H&M has been purged from maps and internet listings in China after the clothing retailer criticized the use of forced labor in Xinjiang province, the area in northwestern China where Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, have been systematically oppressed by the Chinese government.
Baidu Maps no longer lists H&M locations in China and Alibaba’s Tmall, an enormous e-commerce site in China, no longer lists products from H&M, according to a new report from Reuters. JD.com has also pulled all H&M products, according to China Daily.
The de-listings followed an opinion piece in Chinese state media’s The People’s Daily newspaper on Wednesday in support of cotton produced in Xinjiang. Strangely enough, H&M’s criticisms of forced labor in Xinjiang were actually published in 2020 and it’s not clear why Chinese state media outlets have chosen to take on H&M in 2021.
“We welcome all foreign enterprises to invest in China but the bottom line cannot be touched and respect is a prerequisite for conducting business,” the People’s Daily opinion piece from Wednesday reads. “China’s determination to safeguard the development, stability and unity in Xinjiang is unwavering.”
H&M currently has 505 stores in China, the second largest locations of any country for the retailer, according to the company’s website. H&M has 582 stores in the U.S., the largest number in the world.