China pulls H&M Stores from maps as Xinjiang row grows
Swedish clothing company outlets do not appear on Apple Maps and Baidu Maps searches in China
Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) outlets appeared not to show up on Apple Maps and Baidu Maps searches in China on Friday after the fashion retailer found itself at the centre of an escalating spat over human rights in the contentious region of Xinjiang.
Users in Beijing reported that any searches for H&M in either Apple Maps on the iPhone or Baidu Maps returned no results. Competing retailers, such as Uniqlo outlets, continued showing as usual. A similar search in Google Maps showed more than a dozen H&M locations in the capital or its vicinity, though that service is only accessible to locals via the use of a virtual private network that skirts a state ban on products from the Alphabet unit.
Apple sources its mapping data in China from AutoNavi Software Co — owned by Alibaba Group — while Baidu collects its own. Representatives from Apple, Alibaba, Baidu and H&M did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The disappearance of H&M’s physical stores from online maps comes after the retailer was removed from Alibaba’s e-commerce platform earlier this week as the controversy escalated.
The company had been blasted by China’s Communist Youth League and the People’s Liberation Army on Wednesday after social-media users dug out an undated statement about accusations of forced labour in the region’s cotton-picking industry. The statement appears to have since been removed from H&M’s website on Friday.
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