Walmart faces backlash on Chinese social media

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Walmart faces mounting criticism on Chinese social media platforms from users who allege the retail giant has stopped offering products from Xinjiang province in its China-based stores, according to a report Monday.

The viral backlash began last week, with users on Weibo and other platforms posting images claiming products made in Xinjiang weren’t available at Walmart and Sam’s Club outlets in China, the Wall Street Journal reported. The users alleged they couldn’t purchase items originating in the region, such as apples.

Some users claimed they planned to cancel their Sam’s Club memberships, according to the report. The retailer also faced criticism from state-backed outlets in China.

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A review of the Walmart and Sam’s Club online stores in China found no products made in Xinjiang, according to the report. However, some products from the region were found at a brick-and-mortar Walmart store in Beijing.

A Sam's Club exterior in China
Some frustrated consumers have said they will quit Sam’s Club — which is owned by Walmart – over the controversy.
VCG via Getty Images

The claims surfaced days after President Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill banning imports from the Xinjiang region unless businesses prove products were not produced with forced labor. Beijing has faced widespread condemnation for alleged human rights abuses against ethnic and religious minority groups.

The Chinese government slammed US lawmakers for passing the legislation, asserting that the import ban “seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations.” China has denied human rights abuses have occurred.

Apple and Nike were among the US companies who lobbied against the legislation, arguing it could cause supply chain disruptions.

Walmart is the latest company attempting to operate in China without running afoul of US regulations or inflaming tensions with the Chinese government. Last week, chipmaker Intel apologized in China after it directed its suppliers not to source products from the Xinjiang province.

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