Analysis & Comment

Versace apologizes to China after Hong Kong, Macau T-shirt gaffe

A Versace T-shirt caused an international stir after it listed Hong Kong and Macau as countries, leading actor Yang Mi to end her ambassadorship with the high-end global brand.

A photo of the back of the garment — showing cities and their designated countries — was shared to Chinese social media site Weibo over the weekend.

Along with cities like Milan and London, properly listed with the correct corresponding countries, Hong Kong and Macau were incorrectly paired with Hong Kong and Macau, respectively.

A Weibo user pointed this out using coloured underlines and question marks around the aforementioned regions, which are technically part of mainland China and not separate countries.

Versace apologized to China after mistakenly listing Hong Kong and Macau as countries on the back of a T-shirt.

Both areas are known as “special administrative regions,” meaning they have a higher degree of autonomy than other parts of China but are, indeed, a part of the country and not their own sovereign nations.

In a post to Weibo, Mi’s studio said: “The motherland’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacred and inviolable.”

According to Quartz, the Chinese government typically demands an apology with the threat of cutting off access to the Chinese market if an apology is refused.

Versace took to Weibo to share an apologetic statement, as translated into English by Quartz.

“In recent days, Versace has seen widespread discussion of one of our T-shirts. We would like to express our deepest apologies for this incident. Our design incorrectly labelled the country names for some cities,” the company wrote. “This is our company’s mistake, and we express our deepest apologies for any harm it may have caused. Versace affirms that we love China and resolutely respect the sovereignty of its territory.”

The designer brand is just one of many companies that have apologized to China for similar geographical mistakes.

Last year, Marriott International released a statement apologizing to China for listing Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in a customer survey.

The hotel chain’s statement read: “Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China…we don’t support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and we do not intend in any way to encourage or incite any such people or groups. We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize.”

Very similar statements have been released from companies like Delta, Zara, Gap, McDonald’s and more, all of which listed some of China’s regions as separate countries.

Versace has reportedly stopped the sale of the T-shirt in question and destroyed all of the ones it hadn’t sold yet.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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