China Angry Over T-Shirt Order by Embassy Staffer

The incident underscores the sour relation between Canada and China
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 3, 2021 5:52 PM CST
Wuhan or Wu-Tang? China Wants to Know
The flags of Canada and China.   (Jason Lee/Pool Photo via AP, File)

China has made a formal complaint to Canada over T-shirts ordered by a Canadian Embassy staffer in Beijing that allegedly mocked China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, the AP reports, in an apparent mix-up between the city of Wuhan and the American hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters Tuesday that China called on Canada to “thoroughly investigate the incident and give China a clear explanation.” The incident arose after a T-shirt maker posted on the Chinese internet that a staff member from the Canadian Embassy had ordered T-shirts with an apparent bat print.

That appeared to reference allegations that the virus originated in bats and then spread to people in the city of Wuhan, where illnesses were first reported in late 2019. But Canadian media reported the logo was a W in homage to the New York hip-hop group the Wu-Tang Clan and that Ottawa had apologized for any misunderstanding. China's government is extremely sensitive to accusations it was the source of the pandemic and failed to respond quickly enough when cases were first reported in Wuhan. The T-shirts were reportedly ordered last summer and it wasn't clear if any were still in circulation. The controversy underscores the plunge in relations between the countries in the past two years.

(Read more China stories.)

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