The United States and the United Nations have criticized China for oppressing the majority of Uighur Muslims.
China warns Walmart Inc. following allegations that the company’s stockpiles in the country had stopped selling goods from Xinjiang, which made the giant stronger in the midst of growing tensions with the US in the western region.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the anti-graft watchdog of the China Communist Party, rejected the notion that property management was responsible for the transformation of Sam’s Club, Walmart’s only membership group. Consumers have responded with “real action” if the company “does not respect the views of the Chinese people,” the agency said Friday.
The warning underscores the fact that Walmart and US businesses are falling into a political crisis in Xinjiang, with the US and the United Nations criticizing China for oppressing the majority of Uyghur Muslims. US President Joe Biden signed the document on Dec. 23 banning companies from selling U.S. goods made by the provincial clauses – unless they have confirmed that coercive activity has not been affected.
“Removing everything from the community for no apparent reason hides false motives, shows stupidity and ignorance, and will certainly have serious consequences,” the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement on its website.
Chinese media outlets began criticizing Sam’s Club last week as customers criticized the company for evicting goods from Xinjiang.
Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment from China, which was previously reported by Reuters.
Xinjiang has been a hot topic for foreign countries. Brands like Hennes & Mauritz and Nike Inc. was suspended for allegedly not using Xinjiang cotton, a Swedish retailer being fired from local platforms for his actions. Intel Corp. apologized to Chinese customers last week after asking retailers not to use any items from Xinjiang to ensure compliance with US regulations.
Chinese officials deny that forced labor is being used in Xinjiang and say US law is interfering with domestic affairs.
Walmart is facing China’s most competitive business, its largest foreign market except Mexico. When the Bentonville company, Arkansas pioneered a hypermarket in China a few decades ago, pressure was mounting from local rivals such as e-commerce business giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
At the same time, Sam’s Club has become one of Walmart’s most iconic venues in the country, where the chains are seen as a shopping center that sells a wide range of imported goods. Walmart plans to have 100 Sam’s Club stores in China by 2028, almost three times as many as they currently have.