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China Has Beef With Versace—Over T-Shirts

Fashion house apologizes after selling T-shirts seen as eroding Beijing's autonomy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 11, 2019 8:18 AM CDT
In this 2008 file photo, a child and a man sit in front of the advertisement of Versace in Shanghai, China. Italian fashion house Versace has apologized in China for selling T-shirts that it said attached...   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
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(Newser) – Italian fashion house Versace apologized Sunday for selling T-shirts in China that it said attached incorrect country names to cities, after being attacked on social media for challenging China's territorial integrity. Versace did not identify the T-shirt in its own post on Chinese social media site Weibo, but the Global Times newspaper said the item mislabeled Hong Kong and Macao as countries. Both are former European colonies that were returned to China in the late 1990s, notes the AP. The apology came after a rep for Chinese actress Yang Mi, who had been a brand ambassador, said they had sent notice to Versace to terminate their contract. "The motherland's sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacred and inviolable," the studio's statement read in part. Versace said the shirts had been removed from all sales channels on July 24 and destroyed.

"It's our company's negligence and we express deep apology for the impact it caused," it said on Weibo. "Versace reiterates that we love China and resolutely respect China's territory and sovereignty." Versace is not the first foreign company to face flak over how it describes Hong Kong. China has pressured international airlines and other companies to describe the city as "Hong Kong, China" on their websites, rather than just as "Hong Kong." Both Hong Kong and Macao are semi-autonomous territories that have separate identities from China in many peoples' minds. The latest flap comes at a sensitive time for China, as protesters in Hong Kong demanding democracy have taken to the streets all summer, motivated in large part by a desire to protect their way of life from interference by the central government in Beijing.

(Read more Versace stories.)

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