Monday, December 27, 2021
No more products from Xinjiang
Walmart became the target of anger in China
More recently, US President Biden signed legislation banning the import of several products from the geopolitical hotspot of Xinjiang. When Chinese Walmart customers notice that the American company no longer sells products from there, social media outrage erupts.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, caused outrage on Chinese social media over the weekend when Internet users warned that the US conglomerate no longer had products in the Xinjiang region stocked at Chinese Walmart and Sam’s Club branches. Some said they had terminated Sam’s Club membership, and social media accounts linked to the Communist Party criticized the company. Sam’s Club is Walmart’s wholesale chain, open to members only.
Northwest China’s Xinjiang region, which is home to a Muslim majority, has become a geopolitical hotspot – and a moral dilemma for US multinational corporations doing business in China.
The US government has accused China of genocide against religious minorities in the region, and US President Joe Biden last week signed a law banning the import of many products from Xinjiang – unless companies show that that those products were not made using forced labor, which is considered difficult. China has denied allegations of genocide and forced labor, saying its policies in the region are aimed at combating terrorism and protecting national security.
Other Western companies such as fast fashion retailer H&M and sporting goods maker Nike have also recently been targets of Chinese consumers. H&M’s online presence was taken off the Chinese Internet this spring when the Swedish company announced it would no longer source goods from Xinjiang. Last Thursday, Intel apologized to Chinese consumers, partners and the public following outrage against the company on Chinese social media.
Photos of contract cancellations on social media
The US chip giant published a letter to suppliers on its website asking it not to buy any goods from Xinjiang in terms of US law. For its part, Walmart came into controversy on Friday after users wrote on domestic social media platforms that they could not find products typically from Xinjiang in online stores run by Walmart and Sam’s Club China.
A user on microblogging service Weibo accused Walmart of “eating China’s rice and still slapping our faces”. Others said they would terminate their Sam’s Club memberships and shared photos of their conversations with customer service agents showing them canceling their contracts. Others wrote that they were boycotting Walmart stores. Some users reported that online customer service had told them that the product in question was out of stock. A Walmart spokesperson declined to comment.
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