Nike, the well-known sporting goods giant, has found itself in the midst of a heated controversy and facing severe backlash on Chinese social media platforms. The cause of this uproar stems from a statement made by Nike expressing concerns about forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region. This statement, along with the declaration that Nike does not use cotton from Xinjiang, quickly spread on Weibo, a popular Chinese Twitter-like platform, and became one of the highest trending topics.

The social media storm surrounding Nike’s statement has had significant consequences, leading to the termination of popular Chinese actor Wang Yibo’s contract as a brand representative. Wang’s agency released a statement on Weibo confirming his decision to cut ties with Nike due to the criticism it faced regarding its stance on Xinjiang.

The timeline of Nike’s original statement remains unclear, as it was not accompanied by a specific date. Additionally, the company has not provided immediate comment on the matter.

In the statement, Nike explicitly expressed concerns about reports of forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The company emphasized that it does not source products from Xinjiang and has verified with its contract suppliers that they do not use textiles or spun yarn from the region.

This controversy surrounding Nike comes at a time when several countries, including the European Union, United States, Britain, and Canada, have imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. In response, China retaliated by imposing sanctions on European lawmakers and institutions.

Nike’s backlash is reminiscent of the criticism faced by the Swedish company H&M, which also expressed concerns about forced labor in Xinjiang. As a result, at least one Chinese online retailer dropped H&M’s products.

The controversy surrounding Nike’s statement on Xinjiang highlights the sensitivity of the issue and demonstrates the immense power of social media in amplifying public opinions and influencing consumer behavior. Companies operating in China must carefully navigate the intricate political and social landscapes to avoid aligning with public sentiment and facing potential boycotts.

As the uproar continues, it remains to be seen how Nike will respond to the criticism and whether the company can successfully repair its reputation among Chinese consumers.

Useful links:
1. BBC: Nike faces backlash in China over Xinjiang cotton
2. Yahoo Finance: How the Xinjiang cotton controversy is impacting Nike’s business in China