As heated protests continue to consume Hong Kong, mainland Chinese netizens this week have chosen to take issue with international fashion brands that list China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries.
Netizens began circulating “offending” product photos and site screenshots from several international brands — including Versace, Coach, Givenchy, Asics and Swarovski — on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, with many users calling for full-on boycotts of the brands.
An image of a Versace T-shirt widely circulated on Chinese social media
Coach, Versace, Givenchy and Swarovski have since issued public apologies on social media, and said they would recall or amend any products in question. “Coach respects and supports China’s sovereignty,” the brand wrote in a statement on Twitter.
pic.twitter.com/clSN1a5r13— Coach (@Coach) August 12, 2019
— Coach (@Coach) August 12, 2019
The statement followed a personal apology from Donatella Versace:
The Company apologizes for the design of its product and a recall of the t-shirt has been implemented in July. The brand accepts accountability and is exploring actions to improve how we operate day-to-day to become more conscientious and aware. pic.twitter.com/5K8u3c4Dbm— VERSACE (@Versace) August 11, 2019
The Company apologizes for the design of its product and a recall of the t-shirt has been implemented in July. The brand accepts accountability and is exploring actions to improve how we operate day-to-day to become more conscientious and aware. pic.twitter.com/5K8u3c4Dbm
— VERSACE (@Versace) August 11, 2019
The snowballing controversy has also prompted at least three Chinese brand ambassadors — Chinese actress Yang Mi (pictured above at a Versace event in June), TFBoys member Jackson Yee and supermodel Liu Wen — to terminate their respective contracts with Versace (for Mi and Yee) and Coach. “Because of my carelessness in choosing the brand, it has brought harm to everyone,” wrote Liu on Weibo. “I apologize to everyone here! I love my motherland and resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty!” The post has since gained close to one million likes.
Liu Wen’s statement on Weibo
This isn’t the first time international brands have outraged or annoyed Chinese consumers and had to issue apologies and retractions. However, we don’t expect they’ll be the last.
Update: Sure enough, Apple has become the latest brand to come under fire on Chinese social media after a Weibo account alleged that the company’s iOS 12.1 (for iPad) and 12.4 (iPhone) updates no longer treat Hong Kong as a territory of China but instead as its own entity:
Screen shots posted to Weibo allegedly show Hong Kong no longer listed as part of China on Apple’s iOS update
The corresponding hashtag has quickly risen to become one of the microblogging platform’s hottest topics.
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