Why did Kodak apologize to China? over an Instagram post

Why did Kodak apologize to China? over an Instagram post

Ozan Kose / Getty

Xinjiang region of China has become an increasingly tense topic for both world leader e international businesses. Over 1 million Uyghur Muslims they were reportedly detained in “re-education” work camps within the territory. China has become more sensitive to the allegations of violation of human rights and genocide, as stated by the US State Department in January, and often reacts in aggressively to such accusations.

Kodak has become the latest company to navigate the quagmire of expectations set from the West and from China. The company briefly posted a photo series from Xinjiang on Instagram, before quickly removing the photos and offering an apology after a backlash from some Chinese users. TO issue was a caption written by Patrick Wack, the photographer behind the series, which he called the region an “Orwellian” nightmare. ”

Wack visited the region several times between 2015 and 2019 and his photographs feature in a book in exit, called Dust. Kodak, whose cameras use Wack for his work, published in selection of his photos on his Instagram account, linked to Wack’s account, where users could read the following caption about Xinjiang region:

“In recent years the region it was in the center of a international protest after mass incarceration of is Uyghur population and other Muslim minorities, “reads the caption.” This body of work capture a visual narrative of the region and it is a testament to its abrupt descent in an Orwellian dystopia. “

The nationalist section of of China population, egg on from state and local rhetoric media, see Western criticism of Xinjiang as invented or exaggerated for the proposal of holding down of China rise. International companies are more and more made choose from customers in the West and its customer base in growth and profitable in China. Companies like Nike they have come under pressure from the West to clean up their supply chains of cotton from Xinjiang and criticized in China for actually do it. H&M seen its sales drop in China after the Swedish company spoke out against using cotton from region.

Wack’s post it has become a huge topic of conversation on Weibo, a Chinese social media Twitter-like platform. “Not buy Kodak, ” one post read, “Kodak supports jobs of photographers who it deliberately slanders the suppression of China of Ethnical minorities in Xinjiang. “The response from Chinese officials is unclear, but Chinese state publications were publishing stories critical of Kodak. “It’s not uncommon for the West for clamor about Xinjiang issue under the instigation of US-led anti-Chinese forces “, law a story in global times. Kodak pulled the photos days later and issued a statement in to which he apologized “for any misunderstanding or offense the post he could have caused. ”

Kodak was more deferential in a separate statement issued on Chinese social media WeChat platform. “For a long time, Kodak has maintained a good report with the Chinese government and it was in close cooperation with various government departments. We will continue to respect the Chinese government and Chinese law, “reads the statement, translated by Free Hong Kong Printing.

“This is just another pathetic example of how companies are willing to censor themselves, too with a cultural genocide in course, just to maintain access to the Chinese market”said William Nee, research and advocacy coordinator at the Chinese network of Human rights defenders.

“Businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights in all of them business operations, e for a company like Kodak, this includes respecting the right to freedom of expression for those who use his film “.

abuse of Xinjiang Uyghur population have been increasingly advertised over the past few years. In the hope of crack down on separatist sentiment Chinese authorities arrested over 1 million Uighurs in “reeducation camps”. The state He was charged of using IUD, birth control and sterilization to cut down the birth rate. In January, the US State Department declared the treatment of China China of The “genocide” of the Uyghurs.

“The Chinese government should realize it is playing with a double a cutting weapon putting pressure on companies on Xinjiang, “Nee said.” Sul one hand, most companies will obediently submit in the short run. But on on the other hand, these cases attract widespread attention by Western politicians and consumers on risks of be related to the Chinese market. “

Kodak has been contacted for additional comment but he didn’t answer right away.

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