361 Degrees International Limited, one of China’s largest home-grown brands in sports shoes and apparel, has signed an agreement with the China Cotton Industry Alliance (CCIA) to obtain its fibre from Xinjiang , defying the boycott by Western consumer brands over alleged labour abuses. The company, based in the Fujian provincial city of Jinjiang , will buy raw cotton, yarns, fabric and other material from the CCIA and use the association’s trademark in its sales and marketing campaigns, according to a press statement. The CCIA will dedicate its “best cotton fields” to supply 361 Degrees, according to the statement, without providing details about its membership or production capacity. The cooperation comes as the Switzerland-based Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), formed in 2009 to promote ethical practices in the worldwide industry, has come under fire in recent months over its handling of the controversy surrounding alleged forced labour in Xinjiang , the biggest cotton-producing region in China. BCI suspended all licensing activities in Xinjiang since March 2020, and came under fire for its unexplained removal of a statement on its website. Through the partnership with CCIA, 361 Degrees “(hopes) to have the opportunity to provide consumers with better quality China cotton,” according to Zheng Yexin, the general manager of the company’s brand management centre. Cotton from Xinjiang has recently made headlines, as a list of US and European brands including Adidas, Nike and H&M announced they would stop buying fibre from the autonomous region over alleged forced labour. In retaliation, Chinese consumers have called for the boycott of these Western brands , propping up home-grown competitors such as Li Ning, Anta Sports and 361 Degrees. Some Chinese e-commerce merchants and platforms such as Meituan, Didi and Baidu have also retaliated by erasing H&M’s online presence from their sites. The dispute over Xinjiang cotton is part of a wider rift between Beijing and Western powers over the treatment of the Uygur ethnic minority in China. China has been accused of sending mainly Muslim Uygurs to re-education centres for indoctrination and torture, which the Chinese government has denied. CCIA has firmly thrown its support behind the cotton industry in Xinjiang, rejecting allegations of forced labour in the region, according to a report by the China Global Television Network, the international channel of China’s state broadcaster CCTV. “The natural condition for cotton production in Xinjiang is superior, and it is entirely possible to produce high-quality cotton that exceeds Australian cotton standards,” said Liu Qiuhua, the general manager of 361 Degrees’ apparel product centre. The partnership will also allow 361 Degrees to “convey the concept of comfortable, high quality and sustainable development of natural China cotton, and further enhance the international influence of China cotton,” Liu said. Founded in 2003, 361 Degrees makes athletic shoes, clothes and accessories and is the controlling stakeholder of a venture with the Finnish brand One Way.