Following complaints from Chinese social media users that Bulgari was treating the island like a different nation by listing Taiwan and China separately on several of its websites, the high-end jeweler has issued an apology.
Netizens threaten to boycott the Italian brand’s products after screenshots of the websites’ dropdown menus circulate online, sparking an uproar that was later fuell by Chinese state media.
Tuesday saw Bulgari issue a statement on the Weibo social media site in which it said that it “respects China’s position on sovereignty and territorial integrity, as always and unswervingly. The apology cited “management negligence” as the cause of the websites’ inaccurate location labels.
Despite the statement’s best efforts, two related hashtags—one of which has amassed 800 million views—became among Weibo’s top 10 hot topics. Next time, be sure to avoid such elementary blunders, advised one commenter in response to Bulgari’s post. Taiwan is indissolublely linked to China.
According to the state-run tabloid Global Times, not everyone in China accepted Bulgari’s apologies. In the meantime, the Communist Party publication People’s Daily questioned why the company’s English-language Twitter and Instagram accounts had not posted comparable messages.
Is this apology ‘exclusively’ for the People’s Republic of China? The brand responded, “full of the desire to survive,” according to the Weibo account, which posed the question. There was general agreement in the reactions from users to the post, with one comment reading: Not posting it on the internet outside of China indicates that they just care about money and are unaware of their errors.
Additionally, social media users urged the brand’s celebrity ambassadors, including Taiwanese actors Liu Yifei and Shu Qi as well as the model Liu Wen, to make statements or cut connections with the company.
Despite never having had any influence over the self-governing democracy, Taiwan has long been claim by the ruling Communist Party as its own territory. According to the company’s Chinese-language website, which also mentions its sites in Hong Kong, Macao, and mainland China, the island is home to 18 Bulgari boutiques.