Burberry becomes first luxury brand to suffer Chinese backlash in Xinjiang

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Burberry becomes first luxury brand to suffer Chinese backlash in Xinjiang


BEIJING (Reuters) – Burberry has lost a Chinese brand ambassador and its signature tartan pattern wiped from a popular video game, becoming the first luxury brand beset by the Chinese reaction to Western accusations of abuse in Xinjiang.

China sanctioned organizations and individuals in the UK on Friday for what it called “lies and disinformation” about Xinjiang, days after Britain imposed sanctions for alleged human rights violations. man in the western region of China.

Burberry is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, a group that promotes sustainable cotton production which said in October it was suspending its approval of cotton from Xinjiang, citing human rights concerns.

Award-winning Chinese actress Zhou Dongyu has terminated her contract with Burberry as a brand ambassador because Burberry has not “clearly and publicly stated its stance on Xinjiang cotton,” her agency said Thursday.

The company’s iconic plaid pattern has also been removed from clothing worn by characters in Tencent Holdings Ltd’s hugely popular video game “Honor of Kings,” according to a post on the game’s official Weibo account, garnering praise from Chinese Internet users.

Burberry China did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters. Burberry cotton comes from the United States, Australia, Turkey, India and Egypt, according to its website.

The backlash – especially in social and traditional media – has also enveloped mass brands like H&M, Adidas AG and Nike Inc which have already expressed critical views on working conditions in Xinjiang, the largest cotton-producing region. from China.

UN rights activists and experts have accused China of using mass detention, torture, forced labor and sterilization of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. China denies these claims and says its actions in the region are necessary to counter extremism.

In a letter to British lawmakers in November, Burberry said it had no operations in Xinjiang or worked with any supplier based there, adding that it did not tolerate any form of modern slavery among its suppliers, including including forced, compulsory or involuntary labor in prison. .

China’s National Textile and Apparel Council in a statement on Friday urged international brands to stop “bad behavior,” including excluding Xinjiang cotton from their supply chain, out of respect for Chinese customers. .

Hong Kong MP Regina Ip has said she will stop buying Burberry.

“Burberry is one of my favorite brands. But I will stop buying Burberry products. I support my country to boycott companies that spread lies about Xinjiang, ”Ip wrote on his Twitter account.

Reporting by Ryan Woo and the Beijing Newsroom; Edited by Edwina Gibbs

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