Following the tragic shooting on June 17, 2015, in which nine black people were killed by a white gunman during a Bible study at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, many American businesses have showed their support for the victims by banning the sale or display of the Confederate flag. This controversial flag, long seen by some as a symbol of slavery, has become a token of racism and hate. The accused gunman, Dylann Roof, who is a self- proclaimed racist, has been pictured holding a Confederate flag on a web site alleged to be his own. Supporters of this boycott include retailers such as Walmart and Sears, and online enterprises such as Google, eBay and Amazon. This statement against racism is not limited to Americans — China manufacturing companies, who make a large percentage of flags that are sold in the United States, are also showing their support.
On Wednesday, June 24, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the mammoth e-commerce platform of China, announced that they would also remove products bearing the Confederate flag. A spokesperson for the company, Rachel Chan, explained the decision in an e-mail to Reuters. She stated that the Alibaba Group prohibits the listing of any product that is racially or ethnically offensive.
It is unclear at this time to what degree China manufacturing will be affected by this decision. Although Alibaba Group does have a web site that sells to overseas clients, the two main platforms of the company are Taobao and Tmall, which are geared toward Chinese customers.
The general manager of a large textile company in China stated that although the loss of sales might be noticed in slight, the majority of flag sales from China manufacturing companies were for current official country flags. The major buyers for these flags are Australia, Canada, and the United States. She also added that America purchases hundreds of thousands of flags every year.