H&M Battered With Criticism in China Over Xinjiang Forced-Labor Stance

HONG KONG—The world’s largest clothing brand, Hennes & Mauritz AB’s H&M , is under assault in China, one of its biggest markets, over its stance on forced labor in the country’s remote cotton-producing region of Xinjiang.

Chinese state media and social-media users excoriated the Swedish fast-fashion giant in an explosion of anger on Wednesday, accusing the company of spreading rumors and smearing China over a statement it made last year on forced labor in China’s northwest Xinjiang region.

Searches for the H&M’s name on China’s biggest e-commerce platforms were blocked on Wednesday, while internet users took to China’s Twitter -like Weibo to call for boycotting the company, which operates more than 400 stores in China. Two of the fashion company’s Chinese brand ambassadors also announced they were cutting ties with H&M over what was called its smearing of China.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , Pinduoduo Inc., and JD.com Inc., which run the e-commerce sites blocking H&M, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Spreading rumors to boycott Xinjiang cotton while trying to make money in China? Wishful thinking!” wrote China’s Communist Youth League in a post on Weibo that was forwarded nearly 30,000 times and attracted around 10,000 comments.

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