© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A police officer calls colleagues to a backup outside a store of clothing giant H&M in a shopping district in Beijing, China, April 9, 2021. REUTERS / Thomas Peter
By Casey Hall
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The official store of Swedish fashion giant H&M on Alibaba (NYSE:)’s e-commerce platform Tmall has reopened, 16 months after the Chinese website took it down following the brand’s criticism of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
The reopening was first noticed by Chinese netizens and was confirmed by a Reuters search of the platform on Tuesday.
It’s unclear what prompted the reopening, and H&M and Alibaba did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Tmall and many other Chinese platforms and apps removed references to the fashion brand when it was reported that H&M had pledged not to source cotton from the remote Xinjiang region of western China, on the grounds that due to concerns about human rights violations there.
UN experts and human rights groups estimate more than a million people, mostly Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a wide system. large camps in Xinjiang. China denies all allegations of abuse.
H&M, the world’s second largest fast fashion retailer, first opened on Tmall in March 2018.
It was one of many Western brands caught up in the Xinjiang cotton controversy last March and was disproportionately affected by being one of the first to be targeted online by Chinese netizens. society.
While other brands like Nike (NYSE:), Adidas (OTC:), Burberry and Converse see celebrity ambassadors cut ties over public pledges not to use Xinjiang cotton, H&M is the only brand removed online identity in China to such an extent.
As of March 2021, H&M can only sell online in China through its own website and a small program on WeChat, but is not available or searchable on major third-party platforms. like Tmall or JD (NASDAQ:). Com .
In June, H&M closed its flagship brick-and-mortar store in Shanghai, affected by a consumer backlash over the Xinjiang cotton controversy as well as the closure in the commercial capital. trade of China.
H&M entered China in 2007 with the opening of a three-story flagship store and rapidly expanding. It had more than 500 stores in mainland China early last year but its website currently lists only 375.