Chinese actress Jing Tian arrives for the opening cocktail party for the pop-up store of Dior in Chengdu city earlier this year. Photo: AFP

Another day, another apology. Luxury label Dior has become the latest company to say sorry to China over a perceived insult to national sovereignty.

The French brand found itself in hot water after using a map of China which failed to include Taiwan. The island has become a thriving democracy but is still considered by Beijing to be a renegade province and part of its territory.

In another act of contrition, Dior said it “cherishes the feelings of the Chinese people.”

The scandal broke after a student posted an anonymous video to the Chinese social media app Weibo, purporting to show a presentation at Zhejiang Gongshang University in eastern China.

In the video, a presenter from Dior displays a map without the island of Taiwan marked, which quickly drew criticism online and prompted the Paris fashion house to deny that it represented the brand’s position.

“Dior always respects and maintains the principle of One China, strictly upholds China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and cherishes the feelings of the Chinese people,” it said in a statement.

“[We] first extend our deep apologies for the incorrect statement and misrepresentation made by a Dior staff member at a campus presentation,” the company, which is part of the LVMH group, added.

By Thursday, the hashtag “Dior apologizes” had more than 250 million views.

“Haven’t we talked about this many times this year? It’s definitely intentional”

China reacts strongly to any brand which appears to insult its territorial sovereignty.

“Haven’t we talked about this many times this year? It’s definitely intentional,” one Weibo post said.

A number of companies and international airlines have edited their websites to refer to the island of Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei.”

Hotel chain Marriott’s website in China was shut down by the authorities for a week last year after a customer questionnaire listed Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong as separate countries, prompting the hotel chain to apologize and change the wording.

Brands that appear to support the unrest in Hong Kong have also faced consumer anger, including the territory’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific.

Still, the list is rapidly growing. So far, major luxury labels such as Calvin Klein, Coach, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana, Swarovski, Versace and Tiffany have all been forced to issue apologies after falling foul of politically-sensitive subjects.

But then, the reason for these high-profile apologies is simple, as China has become a massive market to luxury labels.

“Despite [the country’s] slowdown in economic growth, retail sales value of personal luxury goods amounted to around 105 billion euros [or US$116 billion] in 2017, ranking second after the United States,” Statista, a statistical and research website, stated.

– additional reporting AFP

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