The French luxury house issued an apology on Thursday following a recruitment presentation at Zhejiang Gongshang University in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, where a company employee showed a map of the country that excluded Taiwan, according to posts on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
The incident sparked backlash in China, which claims sovereignty over the self-ruled Taiwan. (The “One-China” policy asserts that only one sovereign state exists under the name China.) On social media, some users claimed that Dior had been disrespectful of China’s territorial claims. “Not a single part of China should be missing,” one said, and another wrote, “That employee should be immediately fired.”
The fashion firm subsequently apologized in a statement also posted on Weibo, writing that it “deeply apologizes” for the “mistake in representation” and “incorrect explanation” made by a member of the Dior HR team. “Dior has always respected and upheld the principle of one China, strictly upholding China’s rights and complete sovereignty, treasuring the feelings of Chinese citizens.”
China has long been viewed as one of the world’s largest market for luxury goods, and brands have increasingly taken steps to avoid offending Chinese consumers. Dior joins a group of other luxury names, including Italian fashion label Versace and American brand Coach, that have apologized after treading on politically sensitive issues.
The pressure has also mounted as months of pro-democracy protests continue in Hong Kong, where brands have found themselves swept up in debates about free speech and Chinese government censorship. The most recent dispute involves the National Basketball Association, which was dealt a blow in China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the demonstrators two weeks ago, sparking outcry from Chinese officials and citizens.
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