Swedish fashion retail giant H&M is putting end to its business ties with a yarn mill in Xinjiang with which it had an ‘indirect relationship’ after the Chinese mill was alleged to be engaged in forced labor within the supply chain.
Acting in reply to claims by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, H&M confesses it has an indirect business relationship with one mill (in Shangyu, Zhejiang province) belonging to Huafu Fashion Co, which supplies some of its suppliers with a specific yarn.
The 60-page file submitted to H&M Revenue and Customs detailed the ‘overwhelming and credible evidence concerning the scale and gravity of the forced labor regime in Xinjiang’, where Uighur Muslims are forced to work in factories.
A new statement published by H&M outlined that it is ‘deeply concerned’ by reports of ‘forced labor and discrimination of minorities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region [XUAR]’ in China.
H&M said that it ‘strictly prohibits any type of forced labor’ in the supply chain, and in the event of hearing that forced labor has happened within the supply chain, the firm ‘will take immediate action and, as an ultimate consequence, look to terminate the business relationship’.
H&M stressed that the company does not work with any factories that are based in Xinjiang, nor are any products made in the region sourced by the retailer.
The retailer has also done an investigation to check whether any of the factories in China that it works with are ‘employing workers from XUAR through what is reported on as labor transfer programs or employment schemes where forced labor is an increased risk’.
In its statement, H&M described that Xinjiang is the main region for growing cotton in the country.