In a sequence of events, Tencent Holdings has reportedly broken the partnership with British luxury brand Burberry after the controversy around Xinjiang cotton. In a post on the microblogging platform Weibo, Tencent backed Honor of Kings announced that it has canceled cooperation with Burberry. The Honor of Kings has removed the in-game skin project with Burberry though the exact reason wasn’t mentioned. This comes days after outrage erupted in China for the boycott of popular brands like Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), Nike, Adidas, and Burberry after they refused to buy cotton produced in the Xinjiang region. The skins featured Burberry’s signature Trench coat and Tartan. It’s also reported that the company’s iconic plaid design has also been removed from the clothing worn by characters.
The official statement released by the Honor of Kings team regarding the Burberry project cancellation is as follows:
What is the controversy around Xinjiang Cotton?
To have a better understanding, we need to go back a couple of decades. Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is home to approximately 11 million Uyghurs, a Turkic minority ethnic group. They are historically and culturally Muslims under the control of China since 1949. For the last couple of years, the area is witnessing turmoil; but the issue received international media coverage after China started to persecute millions of Uighurs. Uighurs including women and children were subjected to mass surveillance and incarceration without trial. They were sent to Internment camps but initially, Chinese officials denied the existence of such camps.
When the news of atrocities emerged, the government started to portray such camps as lawful education camps for the goal of eradicating extremism but the leaked images suggest otherwise. International observers have labeled the sinicization campaign to be an instance of cultural genocide. China, on the other hand, denies these claims and mentions that they are countering extremism, terrorism and promoting social integration.
After the international observers received evidence of torture, forced labor, and sexual abuse including forced sterilization of women, several western countries imposed sanctions on Chinese officials. The sanctions were introduced as a joint effort by the European Union, UK, US, and Canada. The sanctions include, travel ban and freezing of assets of senior officials in Xinjiang who have been accused of serious human rights violations. Following the sanctions, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a group promoting sustainable cotton production announced that they will not procure cotton from Xinjiang, China’s biggest cotton-producing region. Members of BCI, like H&M, Adidas, Nike, and Burberry also announced the same. This triggered a huge furore in China as people started to call for a boycott of these brands.
What else happened before Honor of Kings canceled cooperation with Burberry?
After the huge outcry from Chinese people, H&M was removed from Alibaba’s e-commerce platform earlier this week. People started to burn their Adidas and Nike shoes and uploaded them on social media to propagate the message. H&M outlets disappeared from Apple Maps and Baidu Maps searches in China on Friday. More than 40 Chinese celebrities including Zhou Dongyu announced ending their contracts. These brands include Uniqlo, H&M, CK, Adidas, Nike, Converse, Puma, Burberry, New Balance, Tommy Hilfiger, and Lacoste. The brands are firm on their decision as it’s taken based on human rights issues. It will be interesting to see how far they can stand on their decision.
What are your views as Honor of Kings canceled cooperation with Burberry over Xinjiang controversy? Let us know in the comments below.