China accuses brands of selling low-quality clothing – Political campaign or serious problem?

China’s government formally accused an array of Western fashion brands of selling substandard children’s clothing that pose potential health hazards.

Among the companies it named are Swedish brand H&M, American sportswear-maker Nike and Spanish label Zara. China’s customs agency listed 81 batches of imported children’s clothing products for quality and safety risks involving dresses and shorts, but also shoes, toys, toothbrushes and baby bottles.

Many were cited for harmful dyes or other substances. Interestingly those brands – among others – have already been under intense pressure from Chinese consumer boycotts, following their pledges not to use cotton from China’s western Xinjiang-Province due to alleged human-rights violations against the Uigher population living there.

Western brands are walking a thin line in the dispute: China is a major market for them. Consumption there is expected to reach more than 10 trillion euros by 2030, according to Morgan Stanley. But the same firms face intense criticism back home if they continue to source cotton from Xinjiang.