Walmart apologizes after Beijing outlet is caught listing Taiwan as a separate ‘country’
Another week, another company apologizing for hurting the feelings of the Chinese people
Yet another Western company has been forced to apologize after hurting the feelings of the Chinese people by listing Taiwan as a separate “country.”
In a viral video uploaded to Weibo last Friday, a customer at a Beijing Walmart shows how imported products from South Korea and the United Kingdom give their “place of origin” (原产地), while a sign for those products from Taiwan reads “country of origin” (原产国).
The footage quickly stirred up a storm on Chinese social media, resulting in Walmart issuing a grovelling apology on its official Weibo account.
In its apology, Walmart declared that it had always “respected and supported” China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, offering its “sincere apologies” for the “serious mistake” made by a careless local employee, stating that it had already ordered relevant stores to correct the mistake.
“Once again, we reaffirm that we will never permit any deliberate actions made to undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will also never do anything to encourage these actions in any form. We are deeply aware of the seriousness of this mistake and sincerely apologize again for hurting the feelings of the public and our loyal customers,” reads the statement.
Walmart also produced to conduct “thorough” investigations into this incident, strictly review its approval process for store signage and labels, and strengthen employee training so that incidents like this will never happen again.
Walmart joins an ever growing list of international companies to apologize to China for inadvertently listing Taiwan as a “country,” typically on their company websites. The phenomenon began this January with Marriott — who had their website and app shut down in China for a week — and has come to change how many foreign companies refer to Taiwan, afraid of being accused of challenging China’s sovereignty and hurting the feelings of millions of Chinese customers.
Most recently, major German companies like Lufthansa, Mercedes-Benz, and Bosch have all changed the name of Taiwan on their websites to “Taiwan, China.”