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Nike’s Xinjiang Statement From The Past Causes Anger Among Chinese Social Media Users Against It

Nike’s Xinjiang Statement From The Past Causes Anger Among Chinese Social Media Users Against It
Following Chinese internet users laying hands on a statement from the sporting goods giant Nike in which it had said that was "concerned" about reports emerging from Xinjiang province in China of forced labour and stressing that it does not source raw materials from that Chinese region resulted in anger of Chinese social media users against the company on Wednesday. 
Discussions centered round the Nike statement were very popular on Thursday as those was among the highest trending on China's Twitter-like social media Weibo while there was a wider fallout of the social media backlash.
In response to the social media criticism over the company's Xinjiang statement, his contract as a representative for Nike was terminated by the popular Chinese actor Wang Yibo, said his agency on Weibo on Thursday.
It was not yet known when Nike had issued that statement as the statement making the rounds on Chinese social media did not carry a date. Nike did not say anything about the issues it is facing currently in China
"We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR)," Nike had said in the statement. "Nike does not source products from the XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region."
This reaction of Chinese users of social media comes at a time when the relations between the United States and China have gone bad in recent years.
Sanctions on Chinese officials for alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang were imposed by the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada in the latest development in the row between Western countries and China. In retaliation, sanctions on a number of European lawmakers and institutions were also imposed by China.
On the other hand, the Swedish firm H&M was also targeted on Chinese social media for saying it was "deeply concerned" about reports of forced labour in Xinjiang and it was reported earlier this week that the company’s products were dropped by at least one Chinese online retailer because of the social media attacks.
China has been accused by activists and some Western politicians of fostering torture, forced labour and sterilisations among the people of Xinjiang. Denying all such claims, China has said that it is providing vocational training to the local people of the region and these measures were necessary to combat terrorism.
Western companies were urged on Wednesday to be "highly cautious" and not to "suppress China's Xinjiang" in a social media post by Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times. The post further read that if that is done, it would "undoubtedly arouse the anger of the Chinese public,". He did not single out any companies.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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