Nike shares tumbled more than 3% Thursday on Wall Street, while Adidas sank more than 6%. In London, Burberry lost more than 4%. H&M stock also slid nearly 2% in Sweden.
Recent sanctions from the United States and other Western countries over Xinjiang have sparked a renewed pushback from the Chinese government, which calls the camps “vocational training centers” designed to combat poverty and religious extremism.
In a viral social media post about H&M, China’s Communist Youth League denounced the company’s stance.
“Spreading rumors to boycott Xinjiang cotton, while trying to make a profit in China? Wishful thinking!” the post said.
H&M faced a barrage of criticism from Chinese social media users, while Weibo posts containing the hashtag “I support Xinjiang cotton” racked up more than 4 billion views. “H&M clothes are rags,” one of the most-liked Weibo comments said. “They don’t deserve our Xinjiang cotton!”
Actor Huang Xuan and actress Song Qian, brand ambassadors for H&M since last year, said separately they would no longer work with the company.
In a statement posted Wednesday on Weibo, H&M said it has always maintained high standards and transparency in its global supply chain.
“[This] does not represent any political position … H&M Group always respects Chinese consumers. We are committed to long-term investment and development in China,” the statement said. The company added it was working with “more than 350 manufacturers” in China. H&M declined a request from CNN Business for additional comment.
“Nike does not source products from [Xinjiang] and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region,” the statement said.
Soon after the Nike statement began circulating on Weibo this week, Chinese singer and actor Wang Yibo said he had cut ties with the US company and “firmly opposes any remarks and actions that smear China.” Nike did not respond to a request from CNN Business for comment.
Over the past year, a number of Western companies have said they will examine their global supply chains to ensure they are free from Xinjiang cotton products after allegations of forced labor involving the region’s Muslim Uyghur people.
In December, the US government said it would block all imports of cotton from Xinjiang over concerns they “may have been made by slave labor in some of the most egregious human rights violations existing today.”
— CNN’s Beijing bureau and Hanna Ziady contributed to this article.