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BEIJIING – Chinese sportswear company Anta Sports has begun the process to quit the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and continue to use cotton produced from Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang). The moves comes as Chinese state media and netizens are backing local brands while targeting Western retailers as the backlash around Xinjiang cotton intensifies.

Many are now calling for boycotts of other brands associated with BCI, whose members include Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Burberry, Puma, and Tommy Hilfiger.

The BCI suspended licensing of cotton from Xinjiang over human rights concerns.

“We have noticed the BCI’s statement. We are deeply concerned about the matter and is starting the process to exit the organization,” Anta said in the statement.

Anta Sports is the third largest sportswear business in the world based on revenues and the potentially opens the door to other BCI members with loyalties that lie with China to follow suit.

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