Swedish fashion house H&M, clothing companies Nike and Adidas, and other Western clothing brands such as Burberry, are facing a massive boycott of Chinese consumers and the government.
The cause is to be found in the statements of concern of companies on the forced labor to which Muslim Uyghurs are subjected in the cotton fields of China’s Xinjiang region. These and other Western fashion companies are facing gods massive boycotts and ostracism from the Chinese public, business, government and major Chinese entertainment and esports icons.
The statements were highlighted by Chinese consumers and youth groups such as the Communist Youth Group on the social media Weibo (the Chinese Facebook) and, in the case of H&M, various companies, including multiple owners of e-commerce platforms and sites, they have completely removed the company from their offerings. Nike released an undated statement saying it was “concerned about reports of forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Nike does not source products from XUAR and we have confirmed with our suppliers that they do not use fabrics or yarns from the region ”.
Several Chinese actors and actresses have announced that they have ended their collaboration with Nike, including Yibo Wang and Songyu Tan. Wang is also the brand spokesperson for the Tencent Peacekeeper Elite mobile esports title (the Chinese clone of PUBG Mobile created for China by Tencent). The situation is the result of the decision by several Western countries to impose sanctions starting this week to some Chinese officials for their work practices in the region. Governments involved include Great Britain, Canada, the European Union and the United States. China has retaliated with sanctions of its own against those countries eland Chinese companies are targeting Western clothing manufacturers who have spoken publicly about the situation.
Earlier this week, the US senators Marco Rubio and Chris Coons they presented a bipartisan resolution that condemns China for its treatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and called for an international investigation “into the abuses and crimes committed”.
Nike is of particular interest to the esports industry in China as it holds a lucrative sponsorship deal with TJ Sports (a joint operation between Riot Games and Tencent) for the League of Legends Pro League. Both Nike and Adidas are long-term sponsors of Chinese professional football, basketball and volleyball teams. Nike is also the clothing sponsor of the Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL). Now organizations like i G2 Esports, who have a deal with adidas, may have to change their clothing or exclude any mention of the sponsor for compete in China-based competitions, for example.
It appears that the Nike logo is even blocked and / or obscured by League of Legends Pro League (LPL) broadcasts. Jerseys and shoes with the iconic Nike swoosh were hidden during the last live competition of the LPL Spring Split which saw LGD Gaming versus Invictus Gaming and LNG Esports versus Rogue Warriors. The logos on the shirts have been covered from a black patch with LPL e mark the shoe logos were blurred.
The latest international partnership a fall on the altar of Chinese nationalism was the one among the UK based luxury brand Burberry and Honor of Kings, one of the most popular video games in China. A partnership between Burberry and Tencent Games had been signed late last year for creating skins in the popular MOBA game but now it seems to be over. According to an official post on the Chinese social network Weibo by a representative of Honor of Kings, the deal is closed: “The ‘King of Glory’ project team has now decided to cancel the new skins of ‘Yao’ and ‘Nature’s Spirit’ and the skin project ‘Sinhai’s Spirit’ Star Legend with Burberry ”, reads a translation of the post. “We will continue to work hard to continually improve the gaming experience for most players.”
Burberry signed the deal with Tencent Games in November 2020, with the hope of creating in-game activations that would promote the various products of the luxury brand. At the time the agreement was announced, both Tencent Games and Burberry said they were targeting “fashion-conscious, digital-conscious Chinese customers”With this new joint effort. Although the Honor of Kings team didn’t offer a reason why the deal was canceled, there is no doubt that the causes are to be found in the boycotts we told you about above.
Recent research claims that over a million people, most of whom are Uighur Muslims, are forced into forced labor in the cotton fields of the Xinjiang region. China denies this, claiming to have arrested these people to stop terrorism and radicalization.