China may be a closed, authoritarian, militant, "reverse-engineering" society.
But even more importantly, China has the world's largest consumer army, and that - more than anything else - is why China is feared by countless corporations around the globe, all of whom desperately seek access to this army of rabid buyers.
For the latest example of that look no further than the plunge in H&M shares, which fell as much as 3.1% in Stockholm, while Nike dropped 3.6% in U.S. premarket trading, with the brands facing possible boycotts in China over their stance on using cotton sourced from the contentious Xinjiang region.
As Reuters reports, Nike and Adidas came under fire on Chinese social media on Thursday after Beijing's propaganda offensive against Swedish fashion brand H&M sparked by the company's expression of concern about labor conditions in Xinjiang. The sportswear companies were the latest to be caught up in a backlash prompted by a government call to stop foreign brands from tainting China's name as internet users found statements they had made in the past on Xinjiang.
Chinese state media had singled out H&M on Wednesday over a statement that was reported last year in which the Swedish retailer said it was deeply concerned by reports of accusations of forced labor in Xinjiang, and that it did not source products from the Chinese region. The company was then blasted by the influential Communist Youth League as well as Chin's real army, the People's Liberation Army although as Reuters notes, it was unclear why the H&M statement was back in the public eye but diplomatic tensions between China and the West have been rising.