Luxury brand Dior has become the latest company to apologise to China over a perceived insult to national sovereignty, saying Thursday it “cherishes the feelings of the Chinese people”.
The French luxury brand found itself in hot water after using a map of China which didn’t include Taiwan — a self-ruled island which Beijing views as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
The scandal broke after a student posted an anonymous video to the Chinese social media app Weibo, purporting to show a presentation Wednesday at Zhejiang Gongshang University, in eastern China.
In the video a presenter from Dior displays a map without the island of Taiwan marked, which quickly drew criticism online and prompted Dior to deny that it represented the brand’s position.
“Dior always respects and maintains the principle of One China, strictly upholds China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and cherishes the feelings of the Chinese people,” the French brand said in a statement.
“The company has started to investigate seriously and promised to deal with it severely,” Dior’s statement read.
By Thursday afternoon, the hashtag “Dior apologises” had more than 250 million views.
China reacts strongly to any brand that appears to insult its territorial sovereignty.
“Haven’t we talked about this many times this year? It’s definitely intentional,” one netizen posted on Weibo.
A number of companies and international airlines have edited their websites to refer to the democratic island of Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei”.
Hotel chain Marriott’s website in China was shut down by the authorities for a week in 2018 after a customer questionnaire listed Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong as separate countries, prompting the hotel chain to apologise and change the wording.
Brands that appear to support the unrest in Hong Kong have also faced consumer ire, including the territory’s flagship carrier Cathay.
Jewellery brand Tiffany removed an advert showing a woman covering one eye earlier this month, after Chinese consumers accused the company of supporting protesters by referencing a well known injury.