Locations for H&M clothing stores in China were not showing up on Apple Maps searches in China on Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported, amid growing anger among Chinese consumers at the company’s decision to stop sourcing from the Xinjiang region. The company has more than 400 stores in China, but all H&M locations are now missing from maps, ride-hailing, and e-commerce applications, the Journal found. Apple relies on Chinese mapping company AutoNavi for its Apple Maps in China.
It was the latest of several Western brands, which also includes Nike and Adidas, that are facing calls for boycotts in China. The US announced last year it would stop imports of cotton and other goods from Xinjiang, over allegations the Chinese government uses forced labor in its production. Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced it was imposing sanctions against two Chinese officials over what it says are ongoing human rights abuses against China’s Uyghur Muslim population.
In response, the Chinese government and state-run media have urged boycotts of Western brands. On Wednesday, The Communist Party’s Youth League in China pointed to H&M’s statement from last year, in which the company said it was “deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of forced labor and discrimination of ethnoreligious minorities in Xinjiang.” H&M said it would not source cotton from the Xinjiang region as a result.
In a statement posted to its Weibo page earlier this week, H&M China said the company did not “represent any political position” and that the company “continues to respect the Chinese consumer.”
The Journal reported that searches for H&M in Apple Maps on an iPhone, or China-based Baidu Maps, did not return any results, while other retailers appeared as normal. H&M was removed from the Alibaba e-commerce platform this week, according to the Journal.
Update March 26th 1:45PM ET: Adds detail about Apple Maps in China