Nike sees social media storm in China over Xinjiang statement

BEIJING: Anger with Nike Inc erupted on Chinese social media late on Wednesday after China’s netizens spotted a statement from the sporting goods giant saying it was “concerned” about reports of forced labour in Xinjiang and that it does not use cotton from the region.

Topics around the Nike statement were among the highest trending on China’s Twitter-like social media Weibo on Thursday, and the social media storm had wider fallout.

Popular Chinese actor Wang Yibo terminated his contract as a representative for Nike in response to social media criticism over its Xinjiang statement, his agency said in a statement on Weibo on Thursday.

It was unclear when Nike had put out its statement, which did not have a date on it, and Nike was not immediately available for comment.

“We are concerned about reports of forced labour in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR),” Nike said in the statement.

“Nike does not source products from the XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region.”

It comes after the EU, US, Britain and Canada on Monday imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China retaliated with sanctions on European lawmakers and institutions.

At least one Chinese online retailer appeared to drop H&M’s products amid social media attacks on Wednesday on the Swedish company for saying it was “deeply concerned” about reports of forced labour in the far western region of Xinjiang.