The Chinese government accused Walmart and Sam’s Club of caving in to Western pressure after pulling products made in the Xinjiang Province from their shelves.
China’s anti-graft agency said on Friday that retail giant Walmart Inc., which owns Sam’s Club, was engaging in “stupidity and shorted-sightedness” over removing the products.
“To take down all products from a region without a valid reason hides an ulterior motive, reveals stupidity and short-sightedness, and will surely have its own bad consequences,” said a statement by the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
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News that Sam’s Club had removed Xinjiang-made items came to light after videos and screenshots from the social media platform Weibo showed products had been removed from the store’s online app.
The U.S. government has warned retailers and taken action on banning imports from Xinjiang over concerns about the persecution and forced labor of the minority Uyghur population in the far-western Chinese region.
President Biden last week signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which authorizes sanctions against companies that facilitate the forced labor of Muslim minority groups, including Uyghurs, in Xinjiang. It also prohibits imports from the region unless the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency determines that no forced labor was used in production. The State Department has labeled China’s persecution of the Uyghurs “genocide.”
Beijing has denied all accusations of forced labor being used in Xinjiang.
Chinese media outlets have said Sam’s Club customer service representatives said the products were out of stock and not intentionally removed, though the government has accused the retailer of covering up the removal.
Neither Walmart nor Sam’s Club has made any public statements on the product removal.
Walmart Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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