H&M pledges its 'long-term commitment' to China after its web presence was scrubbed in the country

Business Insider US
A man walks by an H&M clothing store at a shopping area on March 30, 2021 in Beijing, China.
  • H&M said it is "dedicated to regaining the trust" of Chinese citizens after being scrubbed online.
  • H&M last year criticised China over forced labor accusations, and many citizens boycotted the brand.
  • H&M items and stores were missing from China's shopping sites and its online map services.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

H&M on Wednesday reiterated its commitment to China following backlash over comments the company made last year about forced labour accusations in the country.

In a blog post, the Swedish retailer said it is "dedicated to regaining the trust and confidence of our customers, colleagues, and business partners in China. By working together with stakeholders and partners, we believe we can take steps in our joint efforts to develop the fashion industry, as well as serve our customers and act in a respectful way."

H&M called China a "very important market" and said its "long-term commitment to the country remains strong."

Earlier this week, H&M's online presence appeared to be scrubbed in China after the company's comments criticizing China's forced labor resurfaced online. The criticism recirculated on the social media platform Weibo following sanctions imposed by the US, the European Union, Britain, and Canada on Chinese officials over allegations of human-rights violations.

In the statement it made last year, H&M said it was "deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of forced labor." The company at the time announced it would stop sourcing cotton from the Xinjiang region and would sever ties with a Chinese yarn company that had been accused of forcing labor upon the Uighur Muslim community.

H&M made the change after a report surfaced that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs were being forced into labor. More accounts of Uyghur persecution have since emerged, with officials accused of confining Uyghurs in concentration camps in Xinjiang and forcibly sterilising Uyghur women. China has denied that characterization of the camps and said they're actually "reeducation centers," not facilities designed to stamp out Uyghur culture.

H&M is joined by other big-name brands, including Burberry and Nike, in publicly distancing itself from Xinjiang-sourced cotton. In response to the retailers' stance against China, Chinese companies and consumers have boycotted the brands over their criticism of the government. Tencent, for example, said it was removing costumes that were designed by Burberry and worn by characters in one of the company's popular games.

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