(NEW AMERICAN) – For years China has sought to draw moral equivalence with the West over human rights, insisting that other countries have no standing to criticize its policies. Now Beijing is making Western companies pay for raising ethical concerns.
As hard as many multinational businesses strive to avoid getting pulled into whimsical twists of foreign policy, the reports that China runs forced-labor camps out of Xinjiang — an area that produces about 20 percent of the world’s cotton — made it much harder for corporations to avoid political involvement. With increased fervor on social media demanding businesses take stances on hot-button political issues, China’s monstrous abuse of Uyghur people didn’t go unnoticed.
This week, China fought back. It stepped up pressure on foreign shoe and clothing brands to reject or deny reports of abuses and forced Uyghur labor in Xinjang. State media called for a boycott of Swedish brand H&M and America’s Nike and others for saying they would no longer use cotton from Xinjiang. China also criticized other brands (Adidas, New Balance, Burberry, Massimo Dutti, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Uniqlo) for expressing concern about reports of forced labor. Under pressure from Beijing and their threatened bottom lines, some retailers have retracted their condemnations, and either quietly deleted them from their websites or actually bowed to Beijing and apologized for the criticism. Some others took a stand.
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Source: World Net Daily