The Swedish China Center found that since 2016, Chinese consumers’ boycotting of foreign brands has increased by more than six times in the past eight years. The boycott peaked in 2019 when the U.S.-China trade war began.

Regarding China’s territorial sovereignty, such as the anti-epidemic activities in Taiwan, Tibet, or Hong Kong, more than 80% of the companies accidentally touched the “red line” were called to boycott.

Bloomberg reported that Walmart Inc. issued an apology in 2018 for a signboard that misidentified the origin country of some products as Taiwan rather than China.

But, in 2021, Walmart didn’t apologize amid social media allegations that it took off Xinjiang products from the shelves.

In another case, only a quarter of firms showed regret after refusing to take products from Xinjiang — where China is accused of human rights violations.

H&M was the main target in the boycott wave relating to Xinjiang forced labor last year. The clothing brand is being banned on nearly all e-commerce platforms in China.

Hugo Boss and Burberry both faced backlash from Chinese consumers for statements about Xinjiang. Hugo Boss made their apology while Burberry remained silent.

According to Bloomberg report, the varying apology rates could result from the different scrutiny of Xinjiang’s issues in Europe and North America. 

The report explained that enterprises could stand the reputational damage of being supportive of Taiwan, but they wouldn’t be able to withstand accusations of being labeled genocide.

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