The first luxury brand to be hit by the Chinese backlash to Western accusations of abuses in Xinjiang was Burberry which lost a Chinese brand ambassador while its hallmark tartan design was brushed away from a popular video game in the country.
A number of organisations and individuals in the UK were sanctioned by China on Friday for spreading what it “lies and disinformation” about Xinjiang. This action by Beijing was taken a few days after sanctions on Chinese officials linked to Xinjiang wer5e imposed for alleged human rights abuses in the western Chinese region by the British government.
The Better Cotton Initiative, an industry group that fosters sustainable cotton production and sourcing, had in October last year that it had suspended its approval of cotton sourced from Xinjiang because of its concerns for violation of human rights in the region, and Burberry is a member of that group.
Her contract with Burberry as a brand ambassador was terminated by award winning Chinese actress Zhou Dongyu since Burberry has not “clearly and publicly stated its stance on cotton from Xinjiang,” said the agency representing the actor.
The clothing worn by characters in Tencent Holdings popular video game “Honor of Kings” also did not have the company’s iconic plaid design tghat was there until a day ago, showed the official Weibo account of the game.
There was no comment on the reports available from Burberry China.
The official website of the company says the cotton used by it for making its products is sourced from the United States, Australia, Turkey, India and Egypt.
Mass market brands such as H&M, Adidas and Nike that had in the past expressed critical views on the alleged labour conditions and atrocities and allegations of forced labour for cotton production in Xinjiang, China’s biggest cotton producing region, have also been engulfed in the backlash – particularly in China’s social and traditional media.
There were accusations against China of using mass detainment, torture, forced labour and sterilisations on Uighurs in Xinjiang by activists and UN rights experts. While denying these claims, China has said that the measures it had taken in the region were required to combat terrorism.
Burberry did not have any business operations in Xinjiang or and had no professional links with any suppliers based in that region of China, the luxury company had said in a letter to British lawmakers in November last year. The brand had also said that it did not support any form of modern slavery within companies in its supply china which included forced, bonded or involuntary prison labour.
International brands were urged to cease “wrong behaviour”, including shunning sourcing of cotton from Xinjiang in their supply chain, because of respect for Chinese customers, the China National Textile and Apparel Council had said in a statement recently which is believed to have triggered this Chinese outrage.
(Adapted from RTE.ie)