Italian jewelry brand Bulgari apologizes after sparking outrage in China over Taiwan listing
Published: Jul 11, 2023 07:08 PM
Bvlgari Photo: VCG

Bvlgari Photo: VCG

Italian jewelry brand Bulgari apologized after it sparked anger in China after Chinese netizens found that the company listed "China" and "Taiwan" in the same category on some versions of its website on Tuesday. 

Many netizens criticized the brand for disrespecting China and called for apology from the company.

In a written apology posted later on Tuesday, Bulgari reaffirmed its stance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and said the mistake was caused by the lack of oversight in its overseas websites, and it has been corrected. 

Bulgari also expressed thanks to netizens' supervision, and said it is seeking third-party service providers to ensure correct listings of countries and regions on its overseas websites, according to the statement posted on its official account of Sina Weibo, Chinese Twitter-liked social media. 

However, Bulgari's apology was not accepted by many in China. In a social media post, the People's Daily criticized the length and sincerity of the apology, asking whether the apology was "tailored" for the Chinese mainland.  

Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory and cannot be listed as a country. China regards the Taiwan question at the very core of China's core interests. Many foreign brands have made similar mistakes and, after they drew fierce backlash from the Chinese public, apologized and adjusted their listings. 

On Tuesday, Bulgari became a top searched item on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo after many posted screenshots of the company's website listing "Taiwan" alongside "China." As of press time on Tuesday afternoon, the topic "Bulgari" has garnered over 220 million view.

While the screenshots online showed the listing of "Taiwan" alongside "China," Bulgari's Chinese website site showed a map with Taiwan listed among other Chinese provincial-level regions, and Taipei and other cities on the island were listed among mainland cities. However, according to news site, the brand's website in Taiwan region and its international version did list "Taiwan" alongside "China," under the "Find a store" button. The button did not work when the Global Times tried to open it.

On Sina Weibo, many expressed anger toward what they call Bulgari's disrespect of China's sovereignty. "It seems Bulgari does not recognize Taiwan as part of China," one user wrote, with an anger emoji added at the end.  

Many also demanded a response and an apology from Bulgari. "It's already become a top search item, can Bulgari offer a response and explain whether this was an inadvertent move or a deliberate move?" one netizen said. "When will Bulgari come out and apologize?" another asked, while listing names of Chinese celebrities who are brand ambassadors for the brand, including actresses Shu Qi and Liu Yifei and supermodel Liu Wen. Some netizens have urged to the Chinese celebrities to sever ties with the Italian brand in protest. The Chinese celebrities named by netizens have also not made any public response.

In recent years, many foreign companies have also been criticized for making similar mistakes and later apologized and made corrections. They include fashion brands Versace, Coach, and Givenchy. Other foreign businesses, including US airlines, also stopped referring to Taiwan as "a country," after such a reference sparked outrage in China.

Global Times