Reports indicate that H&M clothing stores are no longer available to see on platforms including Apple Maps in China, following the company’s decision to stop sourcing materials from the Xinjiang region of the country.
According to The Wall Street Journal:
For app users in the world’s most populous country, the world’s biggest seller of fast fashion has effectively ceased to exist.
As of Thursday, Hennes & Mauritz AB’s H&M had been wiped off China’s leading e-commerce, ride-hailing, daily-deals and map applications, as Chinese consumers continued to rage over the Swedish clothing brand’s decision to stop sourcing from China’s Xinjiang region.
Platforms, including Apple Maps, now show no results when users search for H&M. Other affected services include ride-hailing apps and e-commerce apps. As the report notes, the development is the result of retaliation from China against Western companies, most recently ones that have spoken out over forced labor allegations:
Criticism of H&M—including calls for boycotts—by Chinese social-media users surged on Wednesday, apparently over the company’s statement last year that it was no longer sourcing from Xinjiang, a major cotton producer, because of forced-labor allegations there. The statement suddenly went viral on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, amplified by mentions in multiple state-media accounts.
As The Verge notes, Apple relies on a Chinese mapping company, AutoNavi (AMAP), for its maps in China, suggesting the decision to remove H&M listings was out of the company’s hands. The Verge also reports that the Chinese government and state-sponsored media “have urged boycotts of Western brands”. With regard to H&M, this seems to have been in response to a statement from H&M made last year in which it said it was “deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of forced labor and discrimination of ethnoreligious minorities in Xinjiang.”
This week a report claimed Apple’s App Store was hosting apps developed by sections of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a group that has links to Uyghur abuses in the reason.