China Celebrities Boycott Western Brands

Last Thursday, a large number of Chinese celebrities expressed support on for a nationalistic backlash against foreign-owned consumer goods brands .

At least 40 Chinese stars canceled high-profile, lucrative sponsorship contracts, after expressing concern over the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang Province.

Among them were Zhou Dongyu and Jackson Yee, the stars of the best foreign picture Oscar nominee “Better Days,” “Mulan” star Liu Yifei, and the actor Song Dandan, the stepmother of “Nomadland” director, the Chinese-born Academy Award frontrunner Chloe Zhao.

“Mulan” star Liu Yifei was part of a big Chinese New Year promo campaign for Adidas just last month. She has now cut ties with the brand for its concern about Xinjiang labor practices.

The firestorm broke out after the US, the E.U., Britain and Canada announced a coordinated sanction against Chinese officials over their policies in Xinjiang. Beijing retaliated by imposing even harsher sanctions on the E.U. in return.

Apparently, they were “deeply concerned” by reports of forced labor and discrimination against ethnoreligious minorities in Xinjiang.

The controversy has plunged China’s entertainment industry into the firestorm over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Beijing denies, but U.S. officials and leading figures in other democracies described the activities in Xinjiang as a “genocide.”

The conflict highlights the real and escalating challenges artists must face when straddling the divide between China’s enormous market and the humanitarian expectations of the media and the public.

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