This week, Western retail companies have faced backlash in China due to ‘concerns’ over Xinjiang Cotton. In response, a large number of Chinese celebrities have terminated brand endorsement deals with these retail brands.
The online uproar first manifested when Chinese netizens placed the spotlight on an announcement made by the Swedish retail giant H&M last year. In the notice, the company stated that it has “stopped using products from Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autnomous Region” over alleged ‘forced labour’ concerns.
Similarly, Nike also released a statement stating that “we are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).”
China’s official stance on the issue is that allegations of ‘forced labor’ are simply untrue, due to the lack of evidence on the matter.
Thus, this led to calls for these major brands to be removed from the Chinese market by Chinese netizens.
Although these statements were made last year, it comes just as economic sanctions were imposed by Western countries on China earlier this week.
As netizens call upon the greater public to boycott products by these retailers, celebrities began to announce their terminated cooperation with these brands.
Since this morning, a slew of celebrities have announced their terminated endorsement with major brands. These celebrities include Victoria Song, Huang Xuan, Li Xian, Wang Yibo, Lay Zhang, Jackson Wang and more.
Brands that have suffered the termination of endorsements include: Adidas, Nike, Calvin Klein, Puma, H&M, Converse, Lacoste, Burberry, Uniqlo, UnderArmour, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacose and more.
The full list of celebrities who have terminated their brand endorsements are as follows:
Adidas (Former) Brand Partners
Burberry (Former) Brand Partners
Converse (Former) Brand Partners
Converse (Former) Brand partners
H&M (Former) Brand Partners
Lacoste (Former) Brand Partners
New Balance (Former) Brand Partners
Nike (Former) Brand Partners
Puma (Former) Brand Partners
Tommy Hilfiger (Former) Brand Partners
Under Armour (Former) Brand Partners
Uniqlo (Former) Brand Partners
Note: The list is not comprehensive
While all the aforementioned celebrities have announced the termination of their endorsement with these brands, many have also voiced their support for cotton produced in the Xinjiang region.
For instance, nearly all Chinese celebrities including the likes of Xiao Zhan, Zhou Jieqiong, Gong Jun, Cheng Xiao, Vava, Wang Yibo and more have reposted a poster in support of the cause.
They have also trended the hashtag on Weibo, “#ISupportXinjiangCotton.”
The rapper Nine One has also removed her song titled “Puma”, which was previously a song released in collaboration with the brand.
Apart from celebrities, Chinese online game (backed by Tencent) “Honor of Kings” has also cancelled their upcoming collaborations with Burberry.
As of writing, H&M has been removed from Taobao stores. Netizens also posted a video of the H&M sign being removed from the mall entrance of Chengdu, Sichuan.
Some brands have also reacted to the backlash, while others remained silent. FILA China is the first brand to respond to this issue. It affirmed its constant use and purchase of Chinese cotton, including Xinjiang cotton. It has also initiated proceedings to withdraw the FILA China branch from the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) organization.
This story remains in development, as various celebrities have continued to announce terminated brand endorsements.
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