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Xinjiang Cotton Controversy and the Widespread Cancel Culture in China

Source: South China Morning Post

What sparked the furore of Chinese consumers?

A year before the unexpected boycotts, H&M posted on social media expressing concern over labour abuses as well as the general human rights landscape in Xinjiang and pledged that they did not use cotton sourced from the region. This did not have any immediate ramifications as emotions in the country remained mostly reserved. One year later when Western governments began to level sanctions on Chinese government officials for their alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the general opinion among consumers was skewered against foreign criticism of any form. The main reason for such backlash is largely due to the aforementioned rising patriotism as well as the feeling that these criticisms were uttered with malice in an effort to smear the country’s reputation.

Source: BBC

Given that the movement is now far beyond its point of no return, what’s next?

Source: Bloomberg
Source: China Daily
Source: New York Times

Brief Summary on the Xinjiang controversy

In short, devastating attacks and riots that were allegedly organised by separatist forces whose objective was to establish the independent state of East Turkmenistan (historically a state established by Soviet-sponsored warlords) rocked the region in the 2010s. The Chinese government established, in their words, vocational training camps. Meanwhile, from the perspective of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as well as those who escaped and the international community, de facto re-education camps. The Chinese government vehemently denied these claims as outrageous slanderous statements from Western pundits and governments. The state-sponsored media outlets also did their best in pushing the state’s perspective saying that the camps are either vocational camps or the images simply showed regular schools. A 2019 attempt by VICE News journalists posing as travel bloggers to enter the far-flung and heavily surveilled region which restricted journalistic access showed a completely different picture:

Source: VICE News/HBO
Source: Associated Press

Review of Cancel Culture in China and the reparations of this boycott

Source: Tencent Video
Source: The Diplomat

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TLMUN Herald

A not-for-profit publication under the Taylor’s Lakeside Model United Nations Club which focuses on amplifying the voices of the youth of today.