The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, passed almost unanimously in both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Biden last week, bans all imports from Xinjiang (the location of the Uyghur labor and indoctrination camps). However, there is an exception. If U.S. companies can certify “No forced Uyghur labor was used in the making of these goods,” then off they go with imports as usual. However, companies that issue memos and change their import locations are finding bitter backlash on Chinese social media. With bitter backlash come bitter boycotts.
When Walmart announced that it was no longer stocking goods from Xinjiang in the Chinese equivalent of Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs, well, the criticism flew along with cancellations of Sam’s Club memberships. Intel has already apologized for its misstep in sending a memo about its new legal restrictions to its suppliers and vendors. Nike has also been a target of Chinese social media furor. H & M had its online presence canceled in China. Here’s a sample of social media outrage, “[Walmart] is eating China’s rice, yet slapping our face.”
Meanwhile, Chinese companies are seizing the moment. With great pride, they are holding “Xinjiang Fine Goods Festivals” and slapping stickers on everything from linens to socks to apples to walnuts that read, “I come from Xinjiang.” Liza Lin, “Walmart Draws Anger In China Over Xinjiang,” Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2021, p. A1.