Bulgari apologizes to China for listing Taiwan as a country after online backlash

Bulgari has become the latest international brand to apologize to China after listing Taiwan as a country on its website.

China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory, and both the government and Chinese internet users have a history of scolding or boycotting international brands that have referred to Taiwan as a separate country. Late Tuesday, Bulgari posted an apology on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, saying it “steadfastly and always” respected China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Our brand has immediately corrected the mistakenly marked store addresses and map indications on the overseas official website, which resulted from management negligence,” the Italian luxury brand said in a statement. “We deeply apologize for the mistake.”

Brands also have come under fire for offending Beijing’s other geopolitical sensibilities, including its territorial claims in the South China Sea and the status of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader.

The Bulgari incident was widely discussed on Chinese social media, with some users demanding that the brand distribute its apology on its international social media accounts as well.

“Did you post it on the overseas Internet?” one comment with more than 40,000 likes read. “Don’t be a two-faced person who only wants Chinese people to see (the apology).”

A Weibo topic asking users if they accepted Bulgari’s apology had been viewed more than 12 million times by Wednesday afternoon.

Several Chinese state-run publications joined in the demand that Bulgari apologize on its international platforms as well.

“Bulgari made a mistake on its overseas official website but only issued an apology on its mainland China account,” read a commentary by China Daily. “Such an apology may hardly convince Chinese consumers.”

Brands including Valentino, Calvin Klein, Coach, Zara and Delta Airlines have apologized in recent years for listing Taiwan as a country or region separate from China on their websites.

Mercedes-Benz in 2018 apologized for quoting the Dalai Lama on Instagram, while Gap the same year apologized for selling a T-shirt with a map of China that omitted Taiwan and the South China Sea.


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