(p. A1) Walmart Inc., the world’s largest retailer, became the latest Western company to face scrutiny over its handling of business involving Xinjiang, following the passage of a U.S. law that virtually bans all imports from the northwestern Chinese region over forced-labor and human-rights concerns.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer attracted anger on Chinese social media beginning last week after internet users shared comments that purported to show that Walmart had stopped stocking products from Xinjiang in its China-based Walmart and Sam’s Club stores.
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Last week, U.S. semiconductor giant Intel Corp. issued an apology to Chinese consumers, partners and the public following an outcry on Chinese (p. A9) social media against the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company, which had published on its website a letter to suppliers asking them to avoid sourcing from Xinjiang.
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Chinese social media campaigns are often not as organic as their overseas peers, as authorities and technology firms curate and censor domestic online content.
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The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said in September that 30% of retail and consumer companies polled in its most recent business survey cited public backlash and consumer boycotts as a top concern, the highest among the major industries covered by the business lobby. More than one-tenth of the companies said they had reduced planned investments in China because of concerns about consumer boycotts.
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(Note: the online version of the story has the date December 27, 2021, and has the title “Walmart Sparks Public Outcry in China Over Products From Xinjiang.”)