A number of Western brands have been accused in China of selling products that could cause harm to children. 81 items imported by companies including Nike, H&M and Zara were listed in a warning notice on the customs administration website of the country.
With a growing international backlash over claims of abuses in the cotton-growing Xinjiang region, foreign clothes retailers were targeted in China in March this year. Sanctions on China were imposed by several Western nations earlier this year.
Products such as children’s clothing, shoes, toys, toothbrushes and baby bottles that were identified by Chinese authorities during examinations conducted between June 2020 and May 2021 were included in the announcement from China’s General Administration of Customs.
“Dyes or harmful substances [that] may be absorbed by the body through the skin, mouth, etc. and endanger health,” were alleged to be contained in nine batches of H&M girls’ cotton dresses.
Similar charges were also placed against children’s clothes that were imported by Zara, Nike boys’ t-shirts and batches of Gap boys’ cotton pyjamas, the authorities said.
There have so far been no comments on the issue from H&M, Zara, Nike and Gap.
This move by Chinese authorities is the latest hit to Western clothing brands operating in China. Such brands have been targeted in China recently because of international criticisms of claims of abuses in the cotton growing Xinjiang region of China which is the home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority group.
Concerns over allegations that Uighurs are being used as forced labour have been expressed by a number of big Western brand. Online shops of some brands have been blocked while many have been removed from some digital maps.
After initially targeting H&M in China, other western brands including Burberry, Adidas and Converse, among others were also targeted later on.
While the physical stores of H&M continue to operate, consumers can no longer hail a taxi to the shops using an app and while also not being able to shop for the company’s products online. Instead China is promoting its local brands.
Sanctions on officials in China over rights abuses against the mostly Muslim Uighur minority group were imposed in March by several Western countries. Uighurs have been detailed at camps in the north-west region of Xinjiang by Chinese authorities where the inmates are subjected to torture, forced labour and sexual abuse according to allegations along with emergence of some proof of the same.
A coordinated effort by the European Union, UK, US and Canada resulted in the latest sanctions against China by Western countries.
All allegations of abuse of people of Muslim Uighur minority have been denied by China as it said that the camps are for “re-education” and aimed at combating terrorism.
Retaliatory sanctions on Western lawmakers, scholars and institutions have laos been imposed by China.
(Adapted from BBC.com)