Muji is the latest international brand to attract China’s political ire, with the Japanese retailer fined 200,000 yuan ($31,000) for packaging that identified Taiwan as a separate country, Reuters reports.
The complaint centered on the packaging of clothes hangers that marked Taiwan as a “country of origin,” the Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce said in a statement last month. The Chinese regulator charged that Muji, which is owned by Ryohin Keikaku Co (RYKKF), violated China’s advertising laws.
A Ryohin Keikaku spokesperson confirmed that the company had been fined and added that it was working to comply with China’s regulations, Reuters said.
China has become increasingly cantankerous over perceived slights to its national sovereignty, pressuring numerous international brands to amend language related to semi-autonomous or contested territories. Many complaints have focused on Hong Kong and Macau, which are special administered zones of China, and to Taiwan, a self-governing island that China regards as a wayward province. The U.S. has dismissed China’s objections as “Orwellian nonsense.”
But numerous brands have capitulated, including Delta Airlines (DAL), hotel chain Marriott International (MAR), and fashion retailer Zara. Gap (GPS) apologized this month over a T-shirt bearing a map of China that excluded Taiwan and southern Tibet.
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British Airways, Lufthansa (DLAKY) and Air Canada (AIR-CANADA-INC) joined over a dozen other air carriers that now refer to Taiwan as a destination within China, the Associated Press reported this week.
This is the second time this year that Muji has backtracked over Chinese criticism. In January, the company recalled a calendar after Chinese authorities objected to a map that excluded the disputed Senkaku Islands in the South China Sea.