Chocolate and candy purveyor Mars Wrigley made a grovelling apology on Friday for a Snickers product launch which Chinese social media users said suggested that Taiwan was a country.
Videos and pictures of an event promoting a limited edition Snickers bar that was said to be only available in the ‘countries’ of South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan went viral on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.
Chinese users interpreted the wording as a ‘gaff’ and brought it to the attention of Chinese Community Party honchos notorious for punishing commercial enterprises which step out of line.
Chinese state mouthpiece the Global times said Mars Wrigley’s local team ‘has verified and aligned the official site and social media accounts to ensure accurate content.
‘Snickers owner Mars Wrigley said it respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.’
Chocolate and candy purveyor Mars Wrigley apologised on Friday for a Snickers product launch which Chinese social media users said suggested that Taiwan was a country
A Chinese man stands in front of a screen showing a CCTV news broadcast, featuring a map of locations around Taiwan where Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was to conduct military exercises and training activities including live-fire drills, at a shopping centre in Beijing on Wednesday
A Chinese fighter jet – believed to be a J-11 – flies over the Taiwan Strait amid huge war games that are due to continue until Sunday
China on Thursday launched at least 11 ballistic missiles, some of which are thought to have flown over the island for the first time before landing in Japanese waters
Mars Wrigley is just one of a number of Western corporations that have been forced to apologise or walk back criticism of the policies of the CCP in recent times.
VF Corporation, which owns The North Face brand, and PVH, which owns Calvin Klein, both removed statements from their websites which expressed concern about human rights violations in Xinjiang under threat of being shut out of the lucrative Chinese market.
Chip maker Intel was forced to apologise over a letter it sent to suppliers urging them not to source their products or labour from Xinjiang.
While Nike and H&M both faced blow back last year following statements they made about forced labour in cotton production in the region.
Even high-profile individuals risk having their careers ruined by crossing Beijing, as former Premier League star Mesut Ozil found himself frozen out of his Arsenal football club following his comments in December 2019 about the mistreatment of Uighur Muslims.
Although Arsenal officials assured that the decision to drop the player was purely a footballing one, after his post, Ozil was removed from China’s version of the Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 video game, and the club’s next game against Manchester City was dropped from state broadcaster CCTV’s schedule.
Now the issue of Taiwan’s independence and sovereignty is the latest red button topic that can incur Beijing’s wrath.
The region has reached boiling point this week as US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to the country under a cloud of furious threats from Chinese leadership.
Within a short space of time from Chinese social media users pointing out the ‘gaff’, Mars Wrigley published an apology on its Snickers China Weibo account and said the relevant content had been amended
Taipei said multiple Chinese jets and warships (pictured) had today crossed the ‘median line’ – the unofficial maritime border between Taiwan and China
Chinese warship Changchun, a Type 052 destroyer, is escorted by the Cheng Kung, a guided-missile frigate, as they sail in the Taiwan Strait
In response, China has kicked off four days of live fire exercises around Taiwan that have violated its exclusive economic zone and effectively blockaded the island, prompting Taiwan to condemn its ‘evil neighbour’.
Taipei said multiple Chinese warships and fighters today crossed the ‘median line’ that runs down the centre of the Taiwan Strait, separating it from the mainland.
The line is an unofficial but previously widely-recognised border that Beijing insists ‘no longer exists’, as it tries to exert control over its much smaller neighbour.
It comes after a day in which China fired barrages of missiles at Taiwan – some of which flew over the island for the first time – during massive war games that state media admits are a rehearsal for an invasion.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized those missile launches – some of which landed in Japanese waters – calling them a ‘significant escalation.’
Beijing began the military drills late Tuesday, as Pelosi visited the island, and say they will continue until midday Sunday.
Taipei reported that Chinese fighter jets and ships crossed the ‘median line’ that runs down the Taiwan Strait on Friday morning.
‘As of 11am, multiple batches of Chinese warplanes and warships conducted exercises around the Taiwan Strait and crossed the median line of the strait,’ Taipei’s defense ministry said in a statement.
Chinese incursions have become more common since Beijing declared in 2020 that the unofficial border no longer existed.
Beijing has insisted its war games are a ‘necessary’ response to Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled, democratic island, but Washington countered that China’s leaders had ‘chosen to overreact.’