The Swedish fashion empire H&M has declared war on China’s alleged forced labor. The popular fashion label for everyone has announced that in the future it will no longer source cotton from forced labor. But the Chinese government does not seem to like this at all. Without further ado, the country has forced Silicon Valley giant Apple to delete the locations of all H&Ms in the country from its Maps app. The iPhone inventors have granted China’s wish.
Uyghurs are suffering and humanity is watching – still
It is now an open secret that China has over a million people working in internment camps. The work under inhumane conditions takes place in the Xinjiang region. One gigantic industry that is covered locally is the cultivation of cotton. More than 20 percent of the world’s production of this popular raw material is grown there and prepared for further processing. Among the pickers working there are said to be a huge number of Uyghurs. However, these are said to work there not voluntarily, but forcibly. It is an open secret that China has been carrying out these human rights violations for many years. While the whole world has watched for many years, however, there is now growing resentment about the forced labor. Thus the freshly baked US president Joe Biden announced at the beginning of last week that now sanctions are to be enforced against China. The reason, he said, was the human rights violations that have now continued for several years. The political consequences for China now also seem to be causing economic problems. As a reaction to the sanctions, China has called on its own people to boycott classic Western companies. Examples include brands such as Adidas, Nike and H&M.
Companies call Better Cotton initiative into being
In the meantime, fortunately, it is no longer only the ecological cultivation of raw materials that plays a major role for well-known textile companies. Instead, compliance with human rights that we take for granted is also increasingly coming into focus. Accordingly, companies such as H&M, Adidas and Ikea have joined forces with a number of NGOs to launch the “Better Cotton Initiative” project. The focus here is clearly on sustainability in the cultivation of cotton. Sustainable cultivation includes not only environmentally conscious aspects, but also a fair scope with the producers of the raw material. Accordingly, H&M has now ended both the purchase and further processing of cotton from Xinjiang. It is hardly surprising that the Chinese government is anything but supportive of this initiative. Reacting to the Swedish textile giant’s move, the Chinese Communist Party’s Youth Association said:
Want to make money in China while spreading false rumors and boycotting cotton from Xinjiang? Wishful thinking!
Consequences for H&M
It is clear to all of us that this bold move by H&M is not without consequences. The first one has not been long in coming. The amazing thing is that this does not only involve the Chinese government itself. Instead, the Chinese Communist Party has gotten itself a tool in the form of another gigantic Western company on its side. Finally, smartphone giant Apple now has to delete H&M from its Maps app. By the numbers, 400 stores have disappeared from the navigation app without a trace. But that’s not all. All other apps available in China are now required to delete their reference to H&M as well. Otherwise, there is a threat of consequences. This means that the Swedish company’s digital footprint has completely disappeared from China’s Internet. The fact that Apple is playing along without a word in return casts a negative shadow on the company under CEO Tim Cook. He announced last summer that “forced labor is abhorrent.