Recently in China, foreign companies have been coming under scrutiny over the way they describe China and its territories. This comes amid heightened tensions between China and Hong Kong due to mass unrest over concerns about China’s perceived attempts to increase influence in Hong Kong. It’s reported that some people in China have been scouring the websites of global companies such as popular fashion brands to see how they describe territories such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau to make sure they are represented as part of China and not separate entities. Versace has now apologized following criticism after the brand sold a t-shirt that listed cities and countries and appeared to imply that Hong Kong and Macau are independent territories. Actress Yang Mi ended her contract with the brand over the incident. Other companies that have apologized following similar descriptions of Hong Kong as an independent country include Coach, Swarovski, and more. Another company under fire for portraying Hong Kong as an independent country is fashion brand Calvin Klein, which Lay is a model for, and he has been criticized for maintaining his contract with the firm.
Lay released a statement.
This issue popping up again is obviously in response to the ongoing Hong Kong protests, and it’s probably essentially mandatory for celebs to come out with stuff like this. So I understand that celebrities effectively don’t have a choice in this matter — well, they do, but after they almost disappeared Fan Bing Bing, not really — and thus it can be hard to judge anybody who works in China for going along with this.
That said, this controversy in general just continues an ongoing worldwide trend of the escalation of nationalism (and arguably imperialism), which I’m not a fan of at all. This mess is simply a way for the government to flex their power over something minor as a warning to companies/brands to fall in line or not be given access to the market.