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BEIJING: China on Thursday launched a PR war on Western brands critical of rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, with celebrities severing ties to Nike and Adidas, H&M facing a boycott and Burberry dumped from a deal with a gaming giant.

At least one million Uyghurs and people from other mostly Muslim groups have been held in camps in the region, according to right groups, where authorities are also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.

It is one of the world's top cotton-producing areas feeding many Western garment brands with textiles. But several firms have tried to put distance between their brands and Xinjiang cotton producers since the allegations emerged.

That has enraged China, which denies any abuses, insisting labour camps are in fact training programmes and work schemes that have helped stamp out extremism and raise incomes.

On Thursday celebrities, tech brands and state media -- aided by outrage on China's tightly-controlled social media -- piled in on several global fashion brands, as China's vast consumer market was mobilised against critics of Beijing's actions in Xinjiang.

"Chinese people will not allow some foreigners to eat China's rice while smashing its bowls," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing.

"The Chinese market is here... we open our hearts to welcome foreign companies... But we oppose malicious attacks on China based on rumours and lies, and harm to China's interests."

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