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. 

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