K-pop star Lay Zhang, who models for Calvin Klein, released an official statement Monday urging the brand to respect the sovereignty of his home country, China.
His concerns revolve around the label’s country listings on its website. Hong Kong and Taiwan were listed as separate from China on Calvin Klein’s English webpage. (After a century of British rule, Hong Kong has been part of China since 1997; Taiwan is self-administered and has been in a years-long standoff with China, which considers it to be a rogue province.)
“Zhang deeply loves his country and supports the ‘One China’ policy,” the EXO member’s representative wrote in a statement on Chinese social media platform Weibo. “He is against any acts or words that split his country. All brands that collaborate with him should be careful about the issue.”
If brands don’t comply with the One China policy, the statement added, Zhang will terminate his deals regardless of penalty for breach of contract.
Calvin Klein’s English website currently lists Hong Kong as “Hong Kong SAR China”; Taiwan is listed as its own entity. In a statement on Weibo, the brand apologized for any mistake regarding labeling, adding that it “respect[s] and support[s] China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Zhang’s warning comes amid a wave of controversy regarding fashion brands’ treatment of China’s sovereignty. Three fashion brands — Givenchy, Coach and Versace — faced scrutiny over T-shirt designs that mislabeled Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries from China.
Supermodel Liu Wen, who has a Coach deal, distanced herself from the brand in a Weibo post. Versace and Givenchy both lost ambassadors as a result of the controversy, with actress Yang Mi and boy band star Jackson Yee terminating their respective partnerships.
Tensions between Hong Kong and China have been raised for the last 10 weeks amid protests on the island that began in June because of a proposal (now suspended) that would have allow H.K. residents to be extradited to the mainland. Hundreds of flights out of the Hong Kong airport, one of the world’s busiest, were canceled on Monday and Tuesday as thousands of protesters went there; regular travels resumed today.
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