Huawei removes Nike and Adidas from its app store amid Xinjiang cotton controversy

·2-min read

Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei Technologies Co has suspended downloads of sportswear brands Nike and Adidas from its app store amid a public uproar in China over their position on the alleged use of forced labour by Xinjiang cotton producers.

Although the Chinese government has not singled out any particular company, a nationwide consumer boycott against foreign brands – including H&M, Nike, Adidas and Burberry – is sweeping the country in response to their previous statements about refusing to use Xinjiang cotton. Nike and Adidas, which have been growing rapidly in China, had said previously that they do not source products or yarn from the Xinjiang region.

On Monday morning, Nike and Adidas apps on Huawei’s app store were not available to download, with search results for the two brands on Huawei phones greyed out. Huawei did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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Separately, a number of celebrities, including Hong Kong Canto-pop star Eason Chan, have publicly cut their ties with the sportswear giants.

However, the boycott has not affected their sales in China. As of Monday, the brands could still be found on major Chinese e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, and Pinduoduo, and consumer demand remains high.

Beyond cotton, another thread in Xinjiang supply chain creates new snag for global textile firms

A sale offering the latest Nike women’s shoes for 699 yuan (US$107) on Friday night on the brand’s online store in Tmall attracted 350,000 subscribers and the product sold out immediately. Tmall and Taobao’s owner, Alibaba Group Holdings, is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.

The brands’ social media accounts, including their presence on Tencent Holding’s all-purpose app WeChat and microblogging site Weibo are still accessible, along with the Chinese version of its website.

Downloads of Nike and Adidas apps from Apple’s mainland Chinese App Store were operating as normal on Monday morning.

Swedish retailer H&M was one of the hardest-hit brands in the Xinjiang boycott, with its name being removed from Chinese e-commerce and other retail apps while its stores in several cities, including Urumqi and Jinan, were closed. A number of major Chinese tech firms have erased the clothing company’s virtual presence from their platforms with searches for “H&M” and “HM” yielding no results on China’s map applications, e-commerce sites, ride-hailing apps, and food-delivery platforms.

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