Versace apologizes after T-shirt triggers fierce criticism in China

SHANGHAI, CHINA - DECEMBER 08: Model Liu Wen poses backstage during the Coach 2019 early autumn collection fashion show 'Coach Lights Up Shanghai' on December 8, 2018 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

A leading Chinese brand ambassador has quit Versace, claiming that one of the brand's T-shirts broke Beijing's "one China" policy.

Yang Mi, an actress and singer, issued a statement announcing the termination of her contract with the luxury fashion house in response to a design which appeared to list Hong Kong and Macau as countries, rather than cities.

Both are classed as special administrative regions of China, which have semi-autonomous governments from the mainland.

The company, and designer Donatella Versace, have both since apologized for the "unfortunate" error.

Yang's announcement was posted Sunday on the official account of her studio, Jiaxing Xingguang, on Weibo, China's largest social media platform.

Chinese social media users criticized a Versace T-shirt which appears to list Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries.

"China's territorial integrity and sovereignty are sacred and inviolable at all times," the statement said.

"As a company of the People's Republic of China and Yang Mi as a citizen of the People's Republic of China, we are deeply offended. 

"It is the duty of all Chinese citizens to uphold the "One China" principle and adamantly safeguard national unification," said the statement, as translated by Chinese state-run newspaper, the China Daily.

Versace issued an official apology in response to the incident and announced that the shirt is no longer for sale. "The Company apologizes for the design of its product and a recall of the T-shirt has been implemented in July," the brand wrote on Twitter.

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Donatella Versace also apologized. "I am deeply sorry for the unfortunate recent error that was made by our company and that is currently being discussed on various social media channels," she wrote on Instagram.

"Never have I wanted to disrespect China's national sovereignty, and this is why I wanted to personally apologize for such inaccuracy and for any distress that it might have caused."

Following the outcry surrounding Versace, American brand Coach and French brand Givenchy have also come under fire for similar shirts. Both labels were found to have designed garments that neglected to identify Hong Kong as part of China, while appearing to imply that Taiwan -- considered a renegade province by Beijing -- is an independent country.

Weibo users criticized how the Coach T-shirt describes the status of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Coach and Givenchy both issued apologies on Monday.

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