The brand, sometimes referred to as Bvlgari and owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, has apologized after a post on the official Weibo account of the state-backed China News Service did not add “China” before “Taiwan” when describing the island in the store’s website section. on an official website. China considers democratic Taiwan part of its territory, and the island has been a major source of tension as relations between Beijing and Western countries including the United States deteriorate.
China News Service’s Weibo said that Hong Kong and Macao — which are recognized as Chinese special administrative regions — were referred to on the Bulgari website itself as “China Hong Kong” and “China Macau.”
In a Chinese-language statement posted on its Weibo account on Tuesday evening, Bulgari said it respects “China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as always, and firmly.”
“The brand’s external website has errors in store locations due to management’s negligence,” it said. “We sincerely apologize and correct the error immediately.”
Anger spread across the mainland despite the apology. Spokesperson of the Communist Party People’s Daily Its veracity was questioned, and more than 70,000 social media users agreed with the post’s account in an online survey.
Bulgari’s apology highlights the dilemma facing foreign brands that view China as an increasingly important market. China’s spendthrift consumers have become a growth engine for global brands, but a surge of patriotism among mainland shoppers is also at an all-time high given political tensions in Beijing with some foreign governments over everything from trade to Covid.
Several global luxury and fashion brands have come under fire in China in recent years by alienating an increasingly nationalistic clientele on the mainland. In 2019, Christian Dior SE, Coach, Givenchy and Versace were criticized for identifying Hong Kong or Taiwan as separate countries from China.
In 2021, Nike Inc. and Hennes & Mauritz AB plunged their shares and severed ties between brand ambassadors amid concerns about human rights in Xinjiang. The Communist Youth League and the People’s Liberation Army criticized Hennes and Moritz after social media users released an undated statement to the company about accusations of forced labor in the area. Calls to boycott the Swedish retailer have spread to include Nike, which previously said it would not source products from Xinjiang due to workers’ concerns.
Citizens are becoming more vocal these days on social media in support of China’s sovereignty over what it considers its territory.
“Can the apology be seen only in China?” A web user asked about Bulgari. “Don’t just release the message on Weibo, release one outside of China!” DM