Swedish fashion chain Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) announced today that it will end its relationship with a Chinese supplier in the face of allegations about the use of forced labor by ethnic Uighur Muslim minority members.
In a note released by the Efe agency, H&M guarantees that, in the next twelve months, it will end its relationship with the Chinese company Huafu Fashion, which will have hired Uighur workers through a forced relocation program from their homeland in Xinjiang, region northwestern China.
The Swedish company clarified that it only has an “indirect business relationship” with the cotton factory Huafu Fashion in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, but denied that its name is directly mentioned in the report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
The Australian investigation unit directly accused several companies, including Apple, Nike, Adidas, Samsung, Sony or Volkswagen, as well as Chinese firms like Huawei, of using labor through that forced relocation program.
According to ASPI, some 80,000 Uighur Muslims were removed from northwest Xinjiang between 2017 and 2019 to work in factories across China, where they receive “ideological training” and are prohibited from participating in religious ceremonies, in addition to monitored and limited in their freedom of movement.
The Swedish company indicated that the decision to end its link with Huafu Fashion is due to the fact that it is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI): “considering the risk of abuse of workers’ rights and until conditions are met in Xinjiang for due diligence, steps have been taken in line with ETI recommendations ”.
Located in the extreme northwest of China, the autonomous region of Xinjiang has been converted, in recent years, into a police state, after violent ethnic conflicts, between members of the ethnic minority of Uighur Muslim origin and the Han, the majority ethnicity in China, have shaken the territory.
China is accused of holding around a million Uighurs in detention centers in Xinjiang.
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