China’s new way to support Xinjiang ‘forced labour’ cotton: Blur out Western brand logos

Amid a huge backlash in China against Western fashion brands over Xinjiang cotton row, Chinese TV stations have found a new way to show support for the controversial way to produce cotton – blurring out Western brand logos in their programmes. According to a BBC report, the post-production editors of various shows are now censoring everything from T-shirts to shoes, leading to delay in some broadcasts.

Last month, China launched a PR war on Western brands, including H&M, Nike and Adidas, that were critical of human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region. The controversy kicked off after a due diligence report of H&M, released in October 2020, was recently translated and circulated on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.

In the report, the Swedish clothing company had referred to the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)’s statement on cotton from Xinjiang. BCI, a non-profit group promoting sustainable cotton production, had announced the suspension of its activities, citing “increasing risks” of forced labour. H&M maintains on its website that it neither works with any garment manufacturing factories located in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) nor sources products from the region, one of the world’s top cotton-producing areas.

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The stance of Western fashion retailers over rights abuses in Xinjiang triggered massive outrage on social media. Chinese celebrities jumped on the bandwagon and severed ties with Western brands to express support for Xinjiang cotton. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular briefing that Chinese people won’t allow “foreigners to eat China’s rice while smashing its bowls.”

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Blurring out brand logos on television programmes is the latest way to show support for Xinjiang cotton which, according to BBC, has led to “unintentionally funny results.” In episodes of the show ‘Sisters Who Make Waves’, the blurred out shoes of actors and singers give an impression as if they are floating on clouds.

Blurred out shoes in ‘Sisters Who Make Waves’.(Weibo)

Contestants of a reality show Chuang 2021 had worn clothes with Western logos from head to toe, eventually leaving no option for post-production editors other than blurring out entire bodies.

Several leaked documents from China have revealed Beijing’s brutal and systematic crackdown on Uyghurs in which the officials have termed the action as a “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism”. China has denied all of these allegations, claiming it has just taken these measures to lift Uighurs out of poverty.

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