BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese authorities rapped Walmart for allegedly violating cybersecurity laws, local media reported, the latest trouble for the U.S. retailer that is already a target of accusations in the country for supposedly stopping sales of products from Xinjiang.
Police in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen discovered 19 “vulnerabilities” in Walmart’s network system in late November and accused it of being slow to fix the loopholes, the China Quality News, backed by the country’s market regulator, reported on Wednesday.
Walmart was ordered to make rectifications, the report said, without mentioning any fines or details of the vulnerabilities.
This marks a fresh set of in China for Walmart, which in the past month has faced criticism for what local media has said was its deliberate removal of products sourced from Xinjiang from its apps and stores.
Xinjiang is a growing point of conflict between the Western governments and China, as U.N. experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in camps there.
China has rejected accusations of forced labour or any other abuses in the far western region.
Walmart has seen a wave of membership cancellations at its arm Sam’s Club in China since the Xinjiang issue. China’s anti-graft agency also accused the retailer and Sam’s Club of “stupidity and short-sightedness”.
While Walmart has not publicly commented on this, Reuters reported that a Sam’s Club executive told analysts on a call that the matter was a “misunderstanding” and that there was no deliberate removal of Xinjiang-sourced products.
In December, Sam’s Club was fined 10,000 yuan ($1,568) in Shanghai by the city’s market regulator for violating food safety laws after they found that a frozen vegetable product carried no production or expiry date, according to a separate local media report.
($1 = 6.3763 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh; Editing by Himani Sarkar)