China boycotts H&M: Will Western brands have to choose between ethics and profits?

Xinjiang cloth factory

Tensions between China and the West reached boiling point last week as several countries, including the UK, imposed sanctions over human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and retail found itself caught in the crossfire.

Allegations of Uighurs being used for forced labour in the cotton industry in Xinjiang have been rife over the past year, with many retailers pulling out of sourcing from the region.

However, political intervention by the West last week, which included imposing travel bans and asset freezes on senior Chinese officials, has stimulated a backlash in China. This has included a boycott of Western brands, such as H&M and Nike, over statements the pair made last year condemning Uighur labour camps. 

Subscription content

Please sign in now if you have a subscription or are already registered with us.

Retail Week

Register for free to continue reading

Retail-Week.com provides premium, in-depth intelligence that helps retailers judge risks, spot opportunities and identify what they need to do to win in the digital economy.

Register today for a taste of our high-quality intelligence and enjoy:

  • Two free article views per calendar month on Retail-Week.com
  • Detailed analysis of current trends and events 
  • Exclusive newsletters
  • In-depth reports, videos, interviews and much more

Discover Retail Week register now

Please note, if you have recently purchased a subscription, it may take a few minutes before your account is updated.