H&M has reportedly disappeared from major Chinese shopping sites and mapping apps after old comments regarding alleged forced labor in China resurfaced, according to CNBC. Searches for “H&M” and “hm” on Taobao and JD.com did not yield results, while Baidu Maps and Alibaba-owned mapping app Amap did not display results for the search of “H&M.”
H&M reportedly made a statement regarding China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang on its website in 2020. The statement said that H&M was “deeply concerned by reports from civil society organisations and media that include accusations of forced labour,” according to Reuters.
The U.S., European Union, UK and Canada recently imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over the country’s reported human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang. A joint statement by the U.S., UK and Canada said there was evidence of human rights violations from sources “including from the Chinese Government’s own documents, satellite imagery and eyewitness testimony.”
H&M’s statement has since been removed from retailer’s website, but it reappeared on the Twitter-like service Weibo. The company faced backlash from Chinese users, but the government denied acting against ecommerce companies.
“Regarding some companies’ so-called business position on some false information, Chinese consumers have already responded with real actions,” said Gao Feng, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce during a press conference, according to CNBC. ″[We] hope the relevant companies can respect market rules, adjust their wrong actions and avoid the politicization of business.”
JD.com declined to comment on the matter when contacted by CNBC, while Alibaba and Baidu were not immediately available for comment.
Nike also is facing some backlash for its comments on China’s practices, according to CNBC. The retailer reportedly published a statement saying it was concerned about reports of forced labor “in and connected to” Xinjiang. The retailer noted that it does not source products from the region or contract suppliers that use textiles or spun yarn from Xinjiang.
Chinese actor Wang Yi Bo cut ties with Nike after the online backlash, according to his management agency. Chinese actress Tan Songyun also has cut ties with the company. Nike was not immediately available for comment, according to CNBC.