The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. retailer Walmart is facing anger from netizens on Chinese social networks who complain that the retail giant has stopped offering products from the Xinjiang region in its Chinese stores.
The complaints come days after Joe Biden signed the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which bans imports from that Chinese region unless companies prove the products were not produced with slave labor.
Users of Weibo and other platforms run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claimed they could not buy popular items originating from Xinjiang, such as apples at Walmart and Sam’s Club online outlets in China. The report said some customers even threatened to cancel their Sam’s Club membership cards.
On the other hand, the CCP criticized U.S. lawmakers for passing the legislation, saying the import ban “seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations.”
China’s Foreign Ministry, during a statement, menacingly called on Washington to correct its mistakes and refrain from interfering in China’s internal affairs.
Walmart is the latest company to operate in China without violating U.S. regulations. Apple and Nike were among the U.S. companies that lobbied against the legislation, arguing that it could cause supply chain disruptions, the New York Post noted.
Last week, Intel, one of the world’s largest U.S. microprocessor makers, apologized in China after it ordered its suppliers not to source products from Xinjiang province because of the ongoing genocide against Uighurs in the region.
This reaction is not surprising, as Intel is currently a major sponsor of the Olympic Games in Beijing 2022, and more than a quarter of the company’s net profits come from its sales in the Chinese market.
The bill had been championed by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, and Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, who expressed satisfaction with the bipartisan agreement.
“The United States is so reliant on China that we have turned a blind eye to the slave labor that makes our clothes, our solar panels, and much more,” Rubio said on his website after the bill was introduced.
Merkley meanwhile emphasized that “The United States must send a resounding and unequivocal message against genocide and slave labor wherever these evils appear.”