The Canadian embassy in China has issued a formal apology after a diplomat ordered custom T-shirts displaying the word Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus pandemic began, over the logo of hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.
In a statement issued on its website on Sunday, the Embassy of Canada said it regrets the incident and did not mean to offend China or its citizens.
“The Embassy of Canada wishes to convey our sincere regret that the private production of T-shirts for embassy staff featuring Wuhan and the logo of a popular hip-hop group has offended public sentiment in China,” the statement read.
“These T-shirts were not produced to make any statement, political or otherwise, and we regret the offence they may have caused.”
The apology comes after China logged a formal complaint over the incident in early February following reports of the T-shirts on Chinese social media. Weibo users noted the stylized “W” in the logo appeared to look like a bat and the shirts had no mention of Wu-Tang Clan.
A spokesperson for Canada’s foreign service told Reuters on Feb. 2 that the shirt’s logo was a “misunderstanding” and that the design was not meant to represent a bat.
According to the spokesperson, the T-shirts were created for the team of embassy staff who were working to repatriate Canadians from Wuhan in early 2020.
Many scientists suspect COVID-19 may have come from bats before transferring to humans, however, the World Health Organization continues to investigate the origins of the virus.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a press conference on Monday that China has seen the Canadian embassy’s apology and said Canada should consider the incident “as a lesson learned and make sure such things won’t happen again.”
China’s Foreign Ministry says it has lodged a solemn representation with the Canadian Embassy over reports staff ordered t-shirts last year with “Wuhan” and a “bat symbol.” Per blogger Zhou Xiaoping, this is the image. Any hip-hop fan can tell you though that’s a W for the Wu pic.twitter.com/ooTFzh2oRn
— Austin Ramzy (@austinramzy) February 1, 2021
With files from Reuters