Coach, Givenchy in hot water over China T-shirt row

China Versace Flap

Versace said it had removed the T-shirts from shelves as of July 24 and had destroyed remaining inventory in a statement posted to several social media platforms.

'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, ' she said.

On the shirts, there are a list of "city-country" pairs, including "New York-USA", "Beijing-China", "Hong Kong-Hong Kong", and "Macau-Macau", which has been criticized. But it also described Hong Kong and Macau as "Hong Kong-Hong Kong and Macau-Macau".

The studio for actress Yang Mi said in an earlier social media post that it had sent a termination notice and stopped all co-operation with Versace.

Versace's Chinese brand ambassador Yang Mi, an actress known for films like Eternal Love and the Tiny Times series, said Sunday that she has ended her relationship with the Italian fashion house because it has harmed China's sovereign and territorial integrity.

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

In the current context when ... those who support Hong Kong independence are creating trouble wilfully ... a global brand like Versace has made a problematic T-shirt that calls Hong Kong a country.

On the evening of August 11, the company's artistic director Donatella Versace released an official apology on several social media platforms.

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"We are fully aware of the severity of this error and deeply regret it", continued the message, which was posted on Coach's official Twitter and Instagram channels.

China has pressured worldwide airlines and other companies to describe the city as "Hong Kong, China" on their websites, rather than just as "Hong Kong".

It said it "respects the sovereignty of China's territorial state".

Shortly after, Jackson Yee, a member of one of China's most popular boy bands, TFBoys, announced on Weibo that he would stop working with Givenchy.

Versace's T-shirt is the latest in a string of faux pas by foreign companies when it comes to dealing with China.

Issues around Chinese sovereignty have been especially sensitive in recent months, following weeks protests in Hong Kong.

Taiwan is self-governed and has a democratically elected leadership, but China claims the island as a breakaway province and has not ruled out the use of force to ensure unification.

Milan-based Versace is the latest company to become entangled in political issues involving China, which since past year has increased its policing of how foreign firms describe Hong Kong and Macau, former European colonies that are now part of China but run with a high degree of autonomy.

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