H&M canceled in China -Sharon's Straight Talk

What if I told you that your favourite shop suddenly disappeared from your Uber app when you were about to leave?

When you tried to drive there by yourself, you couldn’t find it on your map? To make matters worse, when you decided to buy their products online, you found they were removed from the digital shelves of all top e-commerce platforms. It sounds crazy, that’s what happened to the Swedish fashion retailer H&M in China. It was erased from the face of China almost overnight, at least virtually anyway.

The retailer and a few other major international brands including Hugo Boss, Nike and Adidas, have all been in the cross hairs of the Chinese government and Chinese consumers, for deciding not to source cotton from Xinjiang due to concerns for human rights violations in the region. The Chinese government has since put on a spectacular campaign of manipulating and mobilising the entire Chinese society to put pressure on those businesses.

Xinjiang has been in the limelight quite a lot lately, but unfortunately not at all for the right reasons. A week or two ago, chaos erupted as Chinese boycotted some major European and American retailers for rejecting Xinjiang cotton over concerns of forced labour. News about angry consumers have dominated Chinese headlines and quickly spread around the world.  All this chaos happened straight after China was sanctioned by some of the leading democracies for religious persecution.

Is this just coincidence? I believe Beijing is playing a game that it knows like the back of its hand, provoking nationalistic sentiment, manufacturing anger and chaos, to divert people’s attention away from the real issues, and more importantly to send a message to those watching: don’t mess with the CCP.  I will show you what I mean, and let me know if you agree.

On March 22, the European Union announced sanctions against 4 Chinese officials and 1 entity for their roles in persecuting Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada soon followed, announcing similar sanctions. China quickly retaliated by sanctioning 10 European individuals and 4 entities. But do you know what China is really angry and terrified at? The thought of Europe now working more in sync with America.  

China needed to punish Europe and fire a warning shot. It took a little over a day to come up with a perfect plan.On March 24th, the Chinese Communist Youth League posted two incendiary articles on its microblog. One of them picked out H&M’s statement that was issued nearly 6 months ago announcing its decision to not source cotton from Xinjiang due to concern over forced labour. The Communist Youth League decried H&M for lying and rejecting Xinjiang cotton while trying to make money in China. “Silly and wishful thinking.” it said. It also put up a poster with a tag line: Xinjiang Cotton is not taking this. A national campaign enthused.   Watch more from Sharon’ Straight Talk