BEIJING: US candy giant Mars Wrigley has insisted it “respects China’s national sovereignty” and apologized after an ad for its Snickers bar referred to Taiwan as a country, sparking outrage in mainland China.
The videos and images showed a Snickers website promoting a limited-edition Snickers bar and saying the product was only available in the “countries” of South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan. The commercial, featuring the South Korean boy band BTS, sparked a wave of anger on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo on Friday (Aug 5).
Mars Wrigley later posted an apology on his Snickers China Weibo account, saying the relevant content had been changed.
“We are aware of reports of Snickers-related activity in certain regions of Asia, please take this very seriously and express our deep apologies.” the company said.
“Mars Wrigley respects the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and conducts its business operations in strict compliance with local Chinese laws and regulations.”
Hours after the first statement, Snickers China shared another Weibo post, adding that “there is only one China in this world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.”
Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has never given up using force to bring the island under its control.
The outcry over the Snickers announcement came as sensitivities around Taiwan in mainland China are at their highest point in decades after the US House of Representatives’ speaker called for import bans on Taiwanese products.
On Friday, China said it was ending cooperation with the United States on key issues, including climate change, and has surrounded the self-governing democratic island in recent days with a series of military exercises.
Mars Wrigley is far from the first international firm to issue an apology over concerns about losing access to China’s mass consumer market.
In 2019, French luxury brand Dior apologized after using a map of China in a presentation that did not include Taiwan.
The website of the Marriott hotel chain in China was shut down by authorities for a week in 2018 after a customer questionnaire listed Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong as separate countries.