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International footwear companies are facing boycotts from many Chinese customers over statements expressing outrage about claims of forced labor in Xinjiang, and Chinese sports brands Li-Ning and Anta are experiencing an increase in popularity and price on the secondary market.

Controversy Xinjiang Cotton
Image Source: South China Morning Post

Prices for some of Li-and Ning’s Anta’s most famous sneakers have risen so quickly since late March that official op-eds in state media have denounced the secondary market.The Li-Ning Way of Wade 4 “All-Star Colourway” is the sneaker that has gotten the most coverage. In 2016, Li-Ning produced just 100 pairs of the shoe, which is part of retired NBA superstar Dwyane Wade’s signature collection.

In the days after the controversy erupted, the price of the All-Star Colourway skyrocketed from 1,500 yuan (S$308.10) to 48,000 yuan (US$7,330) on Poizon, a Chinese app for buying and selling shoes and other apparel.Anta and Doraemon, a Japanese manga series and company, collaborated on a sneaker that went from 499 yuan (US$76) to 4,599 yuan (US$702). Before Poizon removed the Anta/Doraemon shoe from the app, it had been purchased over 9,000 times.
Since they released statements that they would not use cotton originating from Xinjiang, Li-Ning and Anta gained from common calls to boycott foreign brands such as H&M, Nike, and Adidas.

The United States barred cotton and cotton products from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, one of the region’s largest cotton producers, in December over allegations that it used forced labor.

The statements from the international companies kick-started a domestic movement within China to boycott the brands, claiming they were defaming China.

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However, Chinese state media has not smiled upon the price speculation of Li-Ning and Anta shoes.People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, criticised such action and said it’s “hurting people’s patriotism”. The paper said high prices could limit people’s access to those brands and resellers shouldn’t be profiting off people’s “patriotic support”.
State news agency Xinhua said in a commentary that such price hikes could result in local brands losing consumer trust: “This could end the growth potential of Chinese brands,” the op-ed said.

Customers in China are split about whether or not they should stop purchasing products from H&M, Nike, Adidas, and other brands embroiled in the controversy.

Local shoppers were interviewed by the South China Morning Post, and it was discovered that some people tended to shop these products, while others turned to local alternatives.

The cotton conflict has also benefited brick-and-mortar sales for domestic Chinese brands.According to China National Radio, some store managers for Chinese clothing brands recorded a 30 percent rise in sales on Tuesday. According to a Li-Ning store manager, sneakers account for roughly 60% of their revenue.

On Tuesday, Poizon issued a statement announcing that it had halted the selling of 23 pairs of sneakers and barred three resellers for raising prices. Li-Ning had 14, Anta had four, 361 degrees had four, and Peak had one of the suspended sneakers. All four are made in China.

Source: South China Morning Post

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