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Chinese 'limited edition' sneakers soar after Xinjiang backlash

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: NBA Miami Heat's Wade stands in front of a company logo of Li Ning during a promotional event for Li Ning's Way of Wade sneakers, in Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) - Prices of some Chinese limited edition sneakers soared among collectors and speculators following calls for local consumers to boycott global brands that have said they don't source products or yarn from China's western Xinjiang region.

Nike and Adidas came under attack on Chinese social media last month over past comments.

Some researchers and foreign lawmakers say Xinjiang authorities use coercive labour programmes to meet seasonal cotton picking needs, which China strongly denies.

The listed price of the "All Star" version of Li-Ning Way of Wade 4 on the Dewu App - the country's largest sneaker resale platform also known as "Poizon" - reached 48,889 yuan ($7,463) per pair, 31 times higher than the official price of 1,499 yuan, the state-owned Global Times reported on Monday.

Anta's Doraemon-themed casual shoes on the platform were also eight times higher than the original price of 499 yuan.

Both offerings disappeared from Dewu, which deleted listings for numerous local shoe models after state media criticised speculation on sneaker prices and taking advantage of people's patriotic feelings.

"A large number of internet users choose to support domestic brands, which is normal," said a Tuesday opinion piece on People.cn, the website of the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party.

"But some scalpers thought they have caught on to a business opportunity, as if they smelled blood."

Dewu on Tuesday said that it deleted listings of 20 kinds of sneakers made by Chinese sportswear brands including Li Ning and Anta Sports after noticing abnormal price fluctuation.

Michael John, research and strategy manager at Shanghai-based consultancy AgencyChina, said he believes the frenzy for domestic sneaker brands will pass.

"First, the platform Dewu continues to facilitate exchange of limited edition Nike and Adidas sneakers," he told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Second, the items that were subject to speculative activity feature an American basketball star and a Japanese cartoon character."

Chinese consumers speculating on high-end sneakers typically target foreign brands. One of the most sought-after items is the Jordan 1 sneaker, with some editions currently selling at more than 40,000 yuan per pair on Dewu.

($1 = 6.5504 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)