The Chinese government has accused H&M, Nike, Zara and other brands of importing unsafe or poor quality children’s clothes and other goods, adding to headaches for foreign companies after Beijing attacked them over complaints about possible forced labour in the country’s north-west.
- Beijing has been attacking foreign brands over complaints about possible forced labour in the country’s Xinjiang region
- Sixteen companies are on the list of “quality and safety unqualified” children’s products
- China has denied reports of forced labour and human rights abuses in its Xinjiang detention camps
A list of “quality and safety unqualified” products from 16 companies including t-shirts, toys and toothbrushes was released by the customs agency to mark International Children’s Day this week.
The announcement is a setback for foreign brands that were attacked by state media in March following accusations by governments and human rights groups that Beijing uses forced labour in Xinjiang in China’s north-west.
State TV called for a boycott of H&M over a statement issued a year earlier saying it would no longer use cotton from Xinjiang.
Official media publicised criticism of other companies for expressing concern about possible forced labour.
H&M goods were removed from Chinese e-commerce platforms while app stores dropped apps for that company, Nike and Adidas, while Chinese celebrities pulled out of endorsement deals with those companies.
Product safety is especially sensitive in China following scandals over tainted, shoddy or counterfeit milk, medicines and other products that have killed and injured consumers.
Some 1 million people from mostly Muslim minority groups have been confined to detention camps in Xinjiang.
Chinese authorities are accused of forced sterilisation and destroying mosques.
Chinese officials deny reports of abuses and say the camps are for job training to promote economic development and combat radicalism.
Authorities have pressed foreign brands to reject reports of forced labour, saying they should look more closely at Xinjiang.
Foreign brands usually comply with pressure to adopt the ruling Communist Party’s position on major issues but human rights is an issue that is sensitive with consumers abroad.
The customs announcement made no mention of Xinjiang or criticism of the foreign companies.
It cited what it said was potentially hazardous dyes and other chemicals in clothing and toys and the failure of shoes and toothbrushes to meet standards for strength and flexibility of materials.
The agency cited t-shirts imported by Nike, children’s and baby clothing from Sara and children’s clothing from H&M Group. It said the goods would be returned or destroyed.
Nike, Zara and H&M didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.