Western firms self-harming politicizing business

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, in a post published on Friday on its website, urged Walmart to show sincerity if it wishes to get a firm foothold in the Chinese market, its second-largest overseas market, accusing the US retail giant Walmart Inc and its Sam's Club of "stupidity and shortsightedness".

Walmart has maintained a studied silence in the face of the backlash by Chinese consumers against its Sam's Club after it removed Xinjiang-sourced products from its online and offline shelves last week.

´╗┐Walmart's move came after US President Joe Biden signed a ban on imports from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region into law on Dec 23, which effectively means that US companies have been kidnapped by Washington's claims to be sanctioning "forced labor".

Highlighting the dilemma they find themselves in, Intel, which had earlier called for its suppliers not to source products or labor from Xinjiang, issued a statement the same day stressing the importance of the Chinese market and saying its rejection of Xinjiang-sourced products and services was purely out of the need to comply with US laws, rather than reflecting its own stance on the issue.

After operating in China for about 25 years, Walmart should be familiar with the sensitivity of the Xinjiang issue.

Intel's I-am-not-the-party-to-blame statement, in which it apologized for "the trouble caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public", has helped the information technology giant quickly douse the fire of public anger, while Walmart's protracted silence has fanned the ire of Chinese consumers.

It seems that unlike Intel, Walmart is willingly politicizing its business operations.

Walmart's after-sales service staff have tried to claim that the absence of Xinjiang-sourced products is due to them being out of stock. But all other short-of-stock goods, apart from those from Xinjiang, bear a date indicating when they will be available on the company's e-commerce platform.

China is a huge market for Walmart, which brings in a reported $11.43 billion in sales from 423 retail outlets, including 36 Sam's Club stores.

In its statement the CCDI said that Western companies such as Walmart that are collaborating with anti-China forces to destabilize Xinjiang by suppressing and boycotting products from the region, after having boasted that they are free from political interference, "have slapped themselves in the face with their own actions".

That is a typical example of what the Chinese call "smashing the cooking pot from which one scoops rice".