Beijing: Amid Beijing’s ongoing tussle with foreign companies over forced labour issues in Xinjiang, Chinese television channels have censored the logos and symbols of brands on sneakers and t-shirts worn by their contestants in various shows.
Since late March, streaming platforms in China have started blurring out logos of western brands like Adidas that are worn by contestants performing dance, singing and standup-comedy routines, The New York Times reported.
This comes after the big-name international companies said they would avoid using cotton produced in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where the authorities are accused of mounting a wide-reaching campaign of repression against ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs. Recently, several companies including H&M and Nike came under tremendous pressure after they said that they were concerned about allegations that forced labour has been used to produce cotton in Xinjiang.
They are also been subjected to pressure amid China’s rising tension with the west.
The ruling Communist Party lashed out at H&M, Nike and other shoe and clothing brands last week after the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada imposed travel and financial sanctions on officials accused of abuses in Xinjiang in China’s northwest.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Ying Zhu, a media professor at the City University of New York and Hong Kong Baptist University, suggested that the censorship was a response to both state and grass-roots patriotism, especially as the opinions of nationalistic viewers become more prominent and loud.
“The pressure is both top-down and bottom-up,” said Professor Zhu.
“There is no need for the state to issue a directive for the companies to rally behind. Nationalistic sentiment runs high and mighty, and it drowns all other voices.”
Last month, Chinese media called for Chinese boycotts of Swedish multinational retailer H&M, sports apparel powerhouses Nike and Adidas; New Balance; Burberry and other members of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) that have voiced concerns or pledged not to use supply chain components produced in Xinjiang, South China Morning Post reported.
H&M, the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, has been pulled from major e-commerce stores in China and blocked by several major navigation, review and rating apps.
Dozens of Chinese celebrities have terminated contracts or said they would cut ties with these brands, including Nike, Adidas, Puma, Converse, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Uniqlo — a move lauded by state media. H&M was forced to close 20 stores in China following its statement on forced labour in Xinjiang that leads to uproar among Chinese nationals and authorities.