Saturday, October 16, 2021

China accuses Western giants over ‘harmful’ imported kids’ clothing

Earlier this year, the European Union, UK, US and Canada imposed sanctions on China over the Uighur issue.

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In the latest round of tit-for-tat blows, China has accused several Western clothing brands of selling goods in China that could be harmful to children.

A warning notice on Beijing’s customs administration website has listed over 80 items imported into China by companies including Nike, H&M and Zara.

The notice is the latest blow to Western clothing brands operating in China, which have been targeted since March amid an international backlash over claims of abuses in the cotton-growing Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority group.

Earlier this year, the European Union, UK, US and Canada imposed sanctions on China over the issue and several big Western companies have expressed concern over allegations that Uighurs are being used as forced labour.

The announcement from China’s General Administration of Customs included items like children’s clothing, shoes, toys, toothbrushes, and baby bottles that were spotted during examinations from June 2020 to May 2021.

Batches of H&M girls’ cotton dresses were said to contain “dyes or harmful substances that may be absorbed by the body through the skin, mouth, etc and endanger health”.

The same issue was raised for children’s clothes imported by Zara, Nike boys’ T-shirts and batches of Gap boys’ cotton pyjamas.

China initially targeted H&M and Nike but that has widened to include Burberry, Adidas and Converse, among others.

Some Western firms’ online shops have been blocked and their stores have vanished from digital maps.

While H&M’s physical stores in China remain, it is no longer possible to get a taxi to branches using ride hailing apps and consumers cannot shop there online. Instead, China is championing local brands.

H&M, Zara, Nike and Gap have yet to respond to requests for comment from the BBC.

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