The hashtag ‘I support Xinjiang cotton’ has been viewed a staggering 4.4 billion times as of press time.
The fervent show of support comes in response to a statement by H&M that they would phase out their business relationship with Huafu Fashion Co. in Zhejiang province due to alleged issues in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The statement, which opens with the phrase “H&M Group is deeply concerned,” was originally published several months ago. However, it resurfaced on Chinese social media on Wednesday evening and controversy promptly erupted.
On Wednesday evening, H&M China posted a response on Weibo declaring that they remain committed to doing business in China.
Weibo users were quick to voice their displeasure with the statement, and many hoped that the brand would soon leave China. Others said that the quality of H&M was too low to be deserving of ‘flawless’ Xinjiang cotton.
H&M was also swiftly removed from popular e-commerce platforms like JD.com and Taobao. Listings for their stores also appear to have disappeared from Dianping and Baidu Maps.
This comes after the US, Canada, the UK and EU imposed sanctions on high-ranking officials from the XUAR on March 22, China Daily reports.
One such official, Wang Junzheng of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps., responded to the sanctions by asserting that he had no interest in ever traveling to any of the aforementioned places.
Famous Chinese singer and actress Song Qian and actor Huang Xuan said on Wednesday evening that they were terminating their contracts with H&M. Actor Wang Yibo also ended his contract with Nike after a similar statement regarding cotton sourcing in Xinjiang surfaced on Weibo on Thursday.
According to Reuters, Nike has yet to comment and the statement was not dated. Other companies facing criticism are Adidas, Burberry, New Balance, Puma, Converse, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Uniqlo.
Xinjiang produces 5.2 million tons of cotton annually, accounting for 87% of China’s cotton production, according to China Daily.
China’s cotton production still falls short of its annual domestic demand, which totals 7.8 million tons annually, with the country importing some 2 million tons of cotton from countries, including Brazil and India every year.
Companies who have spoken out in support of Xinjiang cotton are Muji, FILA China, Anta Sports and Skechers.
Anta stated that they have been “using cotton produced in China, including Xinjiang, and had started the procedure to withdraw from the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI),” CNN reports.
[Cover image via That’s]