On March 25, a series of Chinese celebrities announced they were terminating contracts with several international brands that had made a pledge with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). The BCI is a non-profit organization that developed a system promoting the use of ethically sourced and sustainable cotton between producers and the retailers. Many global retailers have become members of the BCI, which identifies them as companies that are using ethically sourced cotton.
Because of this, many of these brands issued statements rejecting the use of cotton coming from Xinjiang, China, a major producer of the world’s cotton supply, over allegations of forced labor being used in the cotton farming industry. The mass exodus of Chinese celebrities started with H&M and Nike who have listed statements on their websites that they would not be using cotton sourced from the XUAR (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region) over “fears of forced labor”. The BCI office in Shanghai, China made a statement on March 25 claiming they have found no evidence of forced labor in the XUAR.
Chinese actor Huang Xuan was the first celebrity to issue a statement severing ties with H&M. It was followed by Victoria Song that same night. On March 25, Wang Yibo’s official Weibo account announced they had terminated their work collaborations with Nike.
Since then, celebrities such as Seven Tan, Lay Zhang, Huang Zitao, Liu Yifei, Zhou Dongyu, Song Weilong, Li Xian, Yang Yang, Greg Hsu, Turbo Liu, Dilraba, Yang Mi, Jackson Yee, Angelababy, and more have severed ties and terminated cooperation with brands such as Adidas, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Converse, Lacoste, PUMA, Uniqlo, and more. Shows such as “Youth With You 3” and “CHUANG 2021” also have to postpone their shows for last minute editing as they are sponsored by Adidas and PUMA.
On March 25, China’s largest state run newspaper, “People’s Daily”, made a post with the caption, “Xinjiang Mian Hua (cotton)” and the hashtag, “I support Xinjiang cotton.” Celebrities reposted “People’s Daily” post and added the same hashtag, “I support Xinjiang cotton.”