Swedish apparel firm H&M recently announced ending its ties with a Chinese yarn producer over accusations of ‘forced labour’ involving ethnic and religious minorities from the Xinjiang province. It didn’t work with any garment factories in the region and would no longer source cotton from Xinjiang, China’s largest cotton growing zone, the retailer said.

A March report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) had mentioned H&M as one of the beneficiaries of a forced labour transfer programme through its relationship with the dyed yarn producer Huafu’s factory in Anhui.

However, H&M denied ever having any relationship with the factory in Anhui or Huafu’s operations in Xinjiang.

H&M did accept having an ‘indirect business relationship with one mill’ of Huafu Fashion in Shangyu in Zhejiang province.

“While there are no indications for forced labour in the Shangyu mill, we have decided to, until we get more clarity around allegations of forced labour, phase out our indirect business relationship with Huafu Fashion Co, regardless of unit and province, within the next 12 months,” the company was quoted as saying by global newswires.