A state-backed campaign to boycott Western fashion brands for their refusal to use Xinjiang cotton over forced labor concerns has been seen for more than two weeks across China. TV channels and online video streaming platforms have been blurring the logos of the Western brands on their shows.
Since the end of March, entertainment shows in China have, either preemptively or under government directive, censored the logos of Western brands including Adidas, Nike, Puma, Burberry, H&M, Uniqlo, Calvin Klein, and Converse on clothing worn by contestants who are dancing, singing, and performing stand-up comedy.
Many shows have been delayed for editing, with the blurred images then being ridiculed by netizens both in China and abroad. Editors blurred all logos that appeared on people from head to toe, creating an unintended comic effect. Some performers looked like they were dancing on clouds.
Some netizens sympathized with the post-production staff who would have been asked to work long hours to blur logos across all content. Others noted how much work would be created during the Beijing Winter Olympics if editors have to blur all the logos on the gear of international athletes who will be sponsored by many of the brands who have fallen out of favor with Beijing.
Since China’s state-controlled media started the counter-boycott campaign, sympathetic celebrities, including some from Hong Kong and Taiwan, have joined the Communist Party’s efforts to show support for Xinjiang cotton. The campaign has stirred public outrage from a portion of China’s population against the West, fueling these Chinese consumers to boycott the Western brands.
However, China’s sports bureau, teams, and athletes have remained silent on the issue, as they are sponsored by many of the mega international sports brands.
The campaign has been condemned by the U.S. State Department.
Cotton production in China’s northwest Xinjiang region has been accused of using forced labor by Uyghur minorities. It’s one of the human rights violations committed against the minority group by the Chinese communist regime, along with “reeducation” camps and other measures that the United States has said amount to genocide.
The United States and European countries have imposed sanctions on related Chinese government agencies and individuals for human rights violations, while international companies have put out announcements that they’ll boycott any Xinjiang cotton they can’t guarantee didn’t involve forced labor.
In retaliation, the Chinese regime slapped sanctions on U.S. and European lawmakers and scholars.
Meanwhile, China has denied the accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and has launched a propaganda campaign through its diplomats, overseas state-media CGTN, and international social media platforms.