Chinese Weibo Users Burn Up Nike Shoes In Protest, Flames Everywhere Over Forced Labor Accusations

Chinese Weibo Users Burn Up Nike Shoes In Protest, Flames Everywhere Over Forced Labor Accusations

Chinese Nike burn
Chinese Weibo Users Burn Up Nike Shoes In Protest, Flames Everywhere Over Forced Labor Accusations. Image: LeBron James and Maverick Carter, partners in the media company Uninterrupted, announce the launch of a Nike sneaker and an e-commerce store. Photo: Uninterrupted

Some Chinese people burned Nike kicks and shared videos on Weibo, a popular social media platform, after several Western brands including H&M, Nike and Adidas took a stand against using cotton from an area of China where Uyghur Muslims have allegedly been abused.

Activists and U.N. rights experts have accused China of using mass detainment, torture, forced labor and sterilization on Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region. China denies these claims and says its actions there are necessary to counter extremism.

The European Union, the U.S., U.K. and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials last week over these alleged human-rights violations. In response, China retaliated by sanctioning European institutions and lawmakers.

Nike faced a massive backlash and boycott after it released an undated statement highlighting reports of forced labor of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

“We are concerned about reports of forced labour in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” the statement said. “Nike does not source products from the XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region.”

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Nike added that the company had been conducting “ongoing diligence” with its Chinese suppliers to “identify and assess potential forced labour risks”.

Nike, H&M, Burberry, and German-based companies Tommy Hilfiger and Adidas were all criticized by China’s state-run media and online users.

In one tweet, China Central Television urged its followers to boycott the brands stating, “For enterprises that touch the bottom line of our country, the response is very clear: don’t buy!”

The hashtag #ISupportXJCotton — created by the state-owned People’s Daily — generated more than 3 million likes on Weibo as of Friday.

The fallout continued offline too, with Chinese celebrities quick to disassociate themselves from the brands and tear up endorsement deals.

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