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China tightens the screw on H&M

(ATF) China is intensifying its pressure on H&M over the Swedish firm’s comments on abuses in the Xinjiang region, with authorities asking the fashion brand to remove a “problematic” map of China from its website.

The company is already facing a backlash over comments made last year about sourcing cotton from the northwestern region, home to ethnic muslim Uyghurs. 

ABC News reported that the city government of Shanghai had asked H&M to correct the map.  

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Citing a statement by the Shanghai government, ABC said Internet users reported the problem to the management of H&M’s website and the Shanghai municipal bureau of planning and natural resources ordered it to be changed.

The Wall Street Journal cited the Shanghai arm of the Cyberspace Administration of China as saying that H&M’s website operator had taken actions to address the issue.

Last week, H&M said it would work to win back trust in China after its statement on social media last year.

In it, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer expressed concern about the allegations of forced labour in Xinjiang province and said it would no longer source cotton from there.

In response, the company was criticised by authorities, the Communist Youth League and the People’s Liberation Army. Landlords closed its stores and e-commerce sites stopped selling its products. 

H&M chief executive Helena Helmersson told Bloomberg that the past year “had been challenging” and that she had learned “How to lead in a more unpredictable world”.

  • Reporting by Reuters

Mark McCord

Mark McCord is a financial journalist with more than three decades experience writing and editing at global news wires including Bloomberg and AFP, as well as daily newspapers in Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne. He has covered some of the biggest breaking news events in recent years including the Enron scandal, the New York terrorist attacks and the Iraq War. He is based in the UK. You can tweet to Mark at @MarkMcC64371550.

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