Explained: why China accuses H&M and Nike of selling dangerous goods to children
Amid relentless calls across China to boycott Western fashion retailers, the Chinese government is now accusing popular brands like Nike, H&M and Zara of selling substandard products that are potentially harmful to children.
In a notice posted on its website, the General Administration of Customs of China (GAC) listed more than 80 batches of children’s items imported in the past year that were reported as not meeting quality standards and security of the country.
The announcement by China’s customs department comes months after several Western countries, including the United States, imposed sanctions on products from the East Asian country. In recent months, the country has witnessed widespread anger against Western brands, after several of them expressed concern over allegations of forced labor and human rights violations by Chinese authorities in the controversial region of China. Xinjiang.
What did the General Administration of Customs of China say in its last notice?
In its notice, the General Administration of Customs of China listed children’s products, including toys, shoes, clothing, toothbrushes and baby bottles, which were reported in examinations between June 2020 and May 2021.
According to customs, nine batches of girls’ cotton dresses from clothing brand H&M contained what they identified as harmful dyes and other substances that could potentially be ingested or absorbed through the skin. A set of Nike boys’ cotton knit shirts as well as children’s pajamas and cotton shorts from Zara contain similar harmful chemicals and dyes, according to the advisory. Several garments exported by Ralph Lauren, Gap and Uniqlo have also been reported.
Danish toy maker LEGO has also been mentioned in the list of projectile toy lots marked as dangerous by authorities. Officials told the South China Morning Post that the products listed in their notice have since been confiscated, destroyed or returned to manufacturers.
Since the notice’s publication, Chinese social media platforms have been abuzz with criticism of Western brands named in the GAC list.
Is this the first time that China has targeted foreign fashion retailers?
No. Earlier this year, China began targeting foreign retailers when the list of Western brands expressing concerns about the situation in the Xinjiang cotton region grew. Several Chinese celebrities have canceled brand partnerships with foreign clothing brands, including H&M and Nike, over the allegations.
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The controversy first surfaced in March when the youth wing of the ruling Communist Party, the Communist Youth League, shared an old statement from H&M on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, in which the company said it was “deeply concerned” by reports of forced labor in cotton production in Xinjiang. In the post, which was shared in September last year, the company said it would stop buying cotton from producers in the region.
“Spreading rumors of boycotting cotton from Xinjiang while trying to make a profit in China?” Wishful thinking! “The Communist Youth League wrote on Weibo. Initially, H&M and Nike were China’s main targets, but the list has since grown to include Burberry, Converse and Adidas among other brands.
Since then, the websites of several of these clothing brands have been banned in China and their physical stores have disappeared from digital maps.
What were the sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western countries?
The Chinese government launched its campaign against these marks just days after the United States and other Western countries imposed new sanctions. The sanctions were imposed by the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada and were intended to punish the country for having executed serious human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. China has always denied these claims.
According to media reports, Chinese authorities have detained Uyghurs in camps in Xinjiang, where they are reportedly subjected to torture, forced labor and sexual abuse.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China was committing “genocide and crimes against humanity.” British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab called the treatment of Uyghurs “appalling violations of basic human rights”.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “The accumulated evidence points to systemic human rights violations by the Chinese authorities.
China responded by imposing its own sanctions on British organizations and individuals, saying their claims were “based only on lies and disinformation.”