Walmart Gets Ensnared In US-China Dispute Over Xinjiang

NOW IT IS Walmart. Chinese social media has lit up over allegations that Walmart has stopped selling items from Xinjiang at its members-only Sam’s Clubs in China.

Netizens claimed they could no longer buy Xinjiang-sourced items such as apples and dates on the Sam’s Club app that were previously available, and that the groceries had been de-stocked by Walmart. The nationalistic state media, Global Times, said it had found typical Xinjiang produce such as dates, cantaloupes and apricots available, but they were not from Xinjiang.

There has not yet been a formal response from Walmart.

The flare-up comes a day after US President Joe Biden signed into law the bill Congress passed last week, banning all imports of Xinjiang products into the United States without pre-authorised clearance following proof that forced labour was not involved.

The law has already escalated tensions between Washington and Beijing, which denies all allegations of human rights abuses in the province, and is increasingly dragging multinationals into the fray.

Walmart is only the latest Western company to face the Sisyphean task of balancing reliance on Chinese suppliers and markets with the need to comply with US sanctions and maintain its reputation in Western markets.

US semiconductor maker Intel ran into a storm earlier this week after it apologised to China for reminding its suppliers that they had to comply with the US sanctions over Xinjiang. Its apology, posted on its Chinese social media accounts, that its commitment to avoid supply chains from Xinjiang was an expression of compliance with US law, rather than a statement of its position on the issue, was criticised for being insincere at best and duplicitous at worst in both China and the United States.

The stakes are higher for Walmart because it is an easier target for a direct Chinese consumer boycott than Intel, whose products go into other manufacturers’ products.

Sam’s Club is positioned as a premium grocery in China, unlike in the United States, where it is a bulk discount club. It has been a rare success story for Walmart in China. The US retailer is struggling online and offline against domestic rivals in the highly competitive retailing sector.

2 Comments

Filed under China-U.S., Trade

2 responses to “Walmart Gets Ensnared In US-China Dispute Over Xinjiang

  1. Pingback: Xinjiang Gets A New Party Boss, And Subtle Shift In Emphasis On Stability | China Bystander

  2. Pingback: Walmart Put On Notice In China | China Bystander

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