T-Shirt Controversy: Yang Mi Ends Collaboration with Versace

Yang Mi (楊冪) has decided to end her role as the China ambassador for Versace following claims that a recent T-shirt design was being disrespectful to the “One China” policy.

The T-shirt Controversy, as it is known, came about after netizens uploaded the design of a new Versace T-shirt that showed Hong Kong and Macau listed as separate countries from China.

Yang Mi was Versace’s first Chinese brand ambassador and her contract with the Italian luxury brand was freshly signed.

The actress-model said she will no longer be working with Versace due to the T-shirt, which was released on July 24th. In her statement released through her personal studio, Yang Mi said it is her duty as a citizen of the People’s Republic of China to respect and uphold the “One China” principle.

Versace has officially issued an apology, admitting that there is fault in the design and has already recalled all the T-shirts.

Many mainland netizens are reportedly finding the apology to be insincere, as the apology was only released on Weibo and not on Instagram, where it has an international audience.

Versace’s apology follows another apology released by Dolce & Gabbana a few days prior, in which the brand had to apologize for a commercial that was alleged to be disrespectful to Chinese people.

Source: On.cc

This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.

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  1. That’s Mainland for you….bullying at its finest, lol! Some of the Beijing-leaning media outlets we’re even harsher, claiming that Versace was trying to undermine China’s sovereignty because putting them as separate countries mean that they (Versace) supports HK and Macao independence. Go figure! Honestly, it’s just some ignorant designer who made an honest mistake…it happens…the fact the China is making such a big deal out of it shows their insecurity with their own so-called policies.

    Just to show how common this type of mistake is….the other day, one of my co-workers also ignorantly called HK a country when he was presenting a slide — he’s an I.T. guy (non-Asian) who is smart as heck when it comes to numbers and tech stuff but obviously ignorant when it comes to geography (he also spelled some stuff wrong in his slides so obviously not a good speller either, lol)….so should my boss fire him now because he “disrespected” 1.4 billion Mainlanders by calling HK a country? If my boss were from Mainland (which he’s not thankfully), most likely he would fire the guy, but then he would also get his pants sued off because this is the U.S. and California especially has strict labor laws that prevents crap like that.

    1. @llwy12
      I’m not sure I understand your comment 100% but I feel that your co-worker and boss are both American (I suppose) then it’s ok for this mistake but Versace is a big brand which makes profit by selling their products all around the world, they should not make a mistake like this (HK is indeed a part of China) – I read somewhere Capri wants to expend the market in China. I wonder If your co-worker stated Hawaii as a country (not a part of the US) then how your boss would react?

      1. @khuekhueloves He would react the same way — which is, brush it off as an honest mistake….because at the end of the day, that’s what it was. And that’s exactly my point — when someone makes the mistake of referring to HK or Macau as a country, why do Mainlanders always have to see it as a deliberate assault to China’s sovereignty rather than as the honest mistake that it usually is? People’s Daily actually published an article claiming that through their actions, Versace is supporting HK and Macau independence and therefore their apology shouldn’t be accepted — even though technically Versace did more than just apologize, they also destroyed all the existing inventory that had this “mistake” on it, which if anyone knows anything about running a business, is a costly move that will no doubt affect their bottom line, which means it will also impact them financially….so it’s not like they aren’t already paying for their “honest mistake”…

        In terms of the U.S. and my comment above…to be honest, no one over here really cares if someone were to call one of the states (in your example, Hawaii) a country — the most people over here would do is probably laugh at the person for being ignorant….they definitely wouldn’t look at it as “an assault to our national pride” (as China does with its territories). Case in point — our legislature over here in California has been pushing for the state’s secession from the U.S. for at least a decade already (with the “urgency” ramped up since Trump became President) and you know what Washington’s (federal government’s) take on this is? California is welcome to secede as long as they follow the process of getting enough signatures to get the motion on the ballot and its citizens vote to do so…of course, whether California would be able to sustain itself economically as its own country is a whole other story, but the fact of the matter is the federal government won’t / can’t stand in the way if the people vote for it to happen….

      2. @llwy12 not so many Chinese people can understand that commonsense, the honest mistake that you mentioned, but that Chinese for you. HK and Taiwan have been on their own for so long that most people think of them as a separate country from China. Even now with HK has gone back to China, but the mentality, the government, regulation is so far from China that people still think of them as a separate entity from China! Tbqh, the whole “controversy” wouldn’t be that big of a blow up, if it wasn’t for the usual jumpy Chinese netizens, they really need to learn to chill!

        And the apology is insincere because they used weibo only? The main audience that the apology go to is the mainland Chinese who used weibo, so the platform is correct. What the netizens ask for is face! The company needs to make the apology knows to the whole world, make it known how they have to bow their head to the all mighty China! For a simple honest mistake >_>

      3. @littlefish Yup, that’s exactly it! They want the world to know that everyone must acquiesce to their demands, no matter how unreasonable.

        I sure hope that designer doesn’t lose their job over this (if China puts enough pressure on Versace, that might be the next step)…it would be a shame for someone to lose their livelihood over an honest mistake like that. I have no clue what Italy’s labor laws look like (or if they even exist) but if that does happen and there’s the ability to take legal action, then I sure hope the designer takes it!

      4. @littlefish And just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse…from this Versace issue, we already know that referring to Hong Kong as a separate country is a “sin” in China’s eyes, but now, NOT deliberately calling out Hong Kong as a part of China is a “sin” too. Another major brand, Coach, is under fire now because they have a similar shirt as the Versace one, but instead of Hong Kong-Hong Kong, they simply listed Hong Kong by itself (no country or anything next to it, which to be honest, is how most companies refer to HK), which once again pissed off Mainland netizens and now another Mainland celebrity who was the ambassador for Coach is cutting ties with them because of that. If this continues, Chinese celebrities will have to cut ties with the entire world pretty much, lol…

      5. @llwy12 oh god… I don’t see people get upset when New York, LA get mentioned without a – USA next to it? If HK and Taiwan just be by itself, it should not even matter!

      6. @littlefish Exactly, lol. Actually, if we want to really get nit-picky, the Coach shirt technically does have an “error” on it as it pertains to the U.S. – it listed Orange County, USA….Orange County isn’t a city – it’s a county in California comprised of 34 different cities, with each city unique in its own right (and geographically it’s not right either, since people who live in the OC area don’t actually put that in their addresses)….so if we reverse apply China’s logic, whichever OC city that Coach was referring to technically doesn’t exist as a city themselves (oh, the outrage!!!)….so maybe they should go boycott Coach then and demand to be added to the shirt in order to validate their existence as a city?

      7. @llwy12 thank for explaining. I think the case of your co-worker and boss is understandable – I get it now – but if a big brand makes it in their products (like Versace did) and sells them all over – again, with my Hawaii and US example – will American people and the the Authority brush it off like it was nothing? Well I’m not even Chinese, I just think businesses should respect other countries and invest in more research to get the right fact.

      8. @khuekhueloves I get it…yes, it was a mistake and sure, Versace should be called out on it….not disputing that fact at all. And yes, they should fix the mistake, especially if they are intending to sell the product (which they already did fix it from what’s i read). The part that I feel is overboard is to say that by making a mistake on their T-shirt design, Versace is “undermining China’s sovereignty” and therefore their apology should not be accepted (which is essentially what the government’s mouthpiece via their media is saying). To say that Versace’s designers were “ignorant” – yes, of course, because they were….we can even say they were being “culturally insensitive” if we want to go there…but to politicize it by saying they are “undermining China’s sovereignty”….really? Does the opinion of some Italian fashion designer really matter that much?

      9. @llwy12 Let’s not forget even China’s own favorite company, Huawei committed the same mistake. They are now under fire because their phones categorized Taiwan as a country. The Chinese nationalists are getting ridiculous. Even though I work for a US MNC, I try to be careful when speaking about our HK and Taiwan financials. As much as possible, I call them “markets”, and not “countries”. Never know whom among my coworkers could be a CCP fanboy.

  2. I also keep forgetting HK is not a country. Some companies don’t follow the politics so much to know that China is strict in regards to the One China since most of the big countries also have territories but don’t get offended when they get referred as separate entities/countries. Such as Guam or Puerto Rico are territories of the USA but I never seen the govt or anyone here get offended when they get mentioned as Countries. Same when HK was under UK. I’ve seen HK would get treated as a separate entity without the UK getting offended. Not everyone is educated on geography especially if there wasn’t anyone from China on the design committee. Singapore is smaller than HK in size so it’s understandable that ppl might have seen HK or Macau as their own countries too

    1. @sassy Well-said! 🙂

      You mentioned Singapore, which is technically a “city-state” (not a country) that used to be under Malaysia and prior to that, was a British colony. So if we apply China’s logic, Malaysian government should technically be having a conniption every time someone refers to Singapore as “a country” even though they separated decades ago (just like China has a conniption every time some one refers to Taiwan — another island state — as a country, even though Taiwan has been independent from China for decades as well)….similar situation in other countries, yet most of them don’t react with such paranoia to a simple “country” reference.

      1. @llwy12 Wow wow wow first time I hear that Singapore is not a country? Please get your facts right, Singapore is officially an INDEPENDENT COUNTRY since it separated from Malaysia in 1965, with both Malaysia and Singapore in agreement on this, so no controversy here. It is totally different from the China-Taiwan relationship.

      2. @prettysup1 Agree. Singapore and Malaysia was a different situation to begin with as compared to China and Taiwan or China and Hong Kong/Macau so it is meaningless to talk about Singapore and Malaysia. And regardless of the size, Singapore is a country.
        Anyway, the Chinese often over-react but this time, Versace has made a big mistake. This is an international brand, the level of QC and research should be more stringent than this, especially during this sensitive period of what is happening now in HK. Then again, if China does not have such big buying power, would Versace even apologize?

      1. @msxie0714 Uhm, no? I don’t shame her for not kowtow to the west, but at the same time, let’s call a spade a spade. If it wasn’t for the pressure from Chinese netizens, she wouldn’t cut tie with a lucrative deal. Let’s be real, YM is a very good business woman, I doubt she gives 2 cents about patriotism. So my sentence is just what it is, but her fans just can’t take that 🙂

      2. @littlefish

        I agree. I don’t think any Chinese actors who cut ties with lucrative overseas business due to political issue are really patriotic. They just know where the biggest money are and who are the real patrons. If they don’t do this, they can be boycott and lambasted by Chinese audience/netizen and get blacklist by Chinese government.

        I remember an academic person said of all the actors in China, he most respects Li Bing Bing because she refused to promoted ‘Residential Evil’ in Japan due China’s political issue with Japan (they were fighting over an island at that time). Uh, I think Li Bing Bing just has a shrewd mind to know what the most appropriate action to take at that time.

      3. @kidd yup. Back then when there are wars everywhere, patriotism is real because they really do believe it in. But these days, no one really believes in their own government, there is nothing at stake but money! So it’s very naive to think these celebrities gives 2 cent about silly things like a city must be labelled properly >_>

  3. She will please the government for sure, by doing this.

    But at a second thought, iimagine if she don’t do this and the government see her in a shirt like that then they will boycot her too.

    Sometimes people gotta save themselves first.

  4. BIG BULLY China….
    Btw, there is no design or whatsoever on the shirt….It looks so cheap similar to those tourist shirt that one can get on the side street…..I wonder how much does those shirts cost…

  5. The US is attacking China on multiple fronts – Economically (trade wars), technologically (Huawei and 5G), militarily (weekly visits from US naval ships in Chinese territorial water in the South China Sea, the US planning to set up long-range missiles in Australia to counter China), etc. The riots that are happening in Hong Kong now is orchestrated by the West. I am certain I’ve forgotten a few others.

    Judging by the current heated political climate between China and the USA, I am not at all surprised that some Chinese feel this is another smear against China’s sovereignty. Now whether this is the case with Versace and that this is simply an honest mistake – who knows.

    Maybe this is an honest mistake. Maybe it is not. One thing for certain is that the west does have a long history of cultural insensitivity and racism towards China and to the Chinese. This still remains today and is an indisputable fact.

    This is even more unforgivable now considering that China is a military and economic superpower, and in the eyes of many Chinese, they are at least on par (equal footing) with the USA yet they feel so much disrespect from the west, given that the white superiority complex is alive and well. If we agree that the Chinese and Americans are on an equal footing than this superiority complex shouldn’t exist, but it does.

    This is why China is still very much a Chinese society, so many things in China are still done the Chinese way. Culturally, Chinese culture is not as whitewashed as other developed East Asian countries like South Korea and Japan during the course of modernization. In the eyes of the west, modernization is whitewashing another’s culture, combining european elements into theirs and somehow that makes it developed because they are doing things the European way. China does not believe that taking western elements to blend with its own culture is the only way to modernize and develop its society.

    There is a very good explaination of it here for anyone that’s interested:

    1. @anon
      The history of China from the mid-19th century was traumatic for a weakened country invaded and plundered by rising European powers with big ammos. In some ways, they react like the Israelis who swore ‘NEVER AGAIN’ to past humiliations and persecution. While the US is much more sympathetic to Israel, China is not surprisingly demonized.

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