Italian fashion house Versace apologised on Sunday for selling T-shirts that attached incorrect country names to Chinese cities, after being attacked on social media for challenging China’s territorial integrity.

Versace did not identify the T-shirt in its own post on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media site, but according to Global Times newspaper, the item mislabeled Hong Kong and Macao as countries.

The apology came after a Chinese actor cut her ties with the company, saying the clothing was suspected of harming China’s sovereignty.

Versace said the shirts had been removed from all sales channels on July 24 and destroyed.


“It’s our company’s negligence and we express deep apology for the impact it caused,”  Versace was reported as saying by Chinese social media site Weibo reported.

“Versace reiterates that we love China and resolutely respect China’s territory and sovereignty”, it further said.

Versace is not the first foreign company to face flak over how it describes Hong Kong. China has pressured international airlines and other companies to describe the city as “Hong Kong, China” on their websites, rather than just as “Hong Kong”. Both Hong Kong and Macao are semi-autonomous territories that have separate identities from China in many peoples’ minds.

The latest flap comes at a sensitive time for China, as protesters in Hong Kong demanding democracy have taken to the streets all summer, motivated in large part by a desire to protect their way of life from interference by the central government in Beijing.