A controversy over a t-shirt logo has sparked a new feud between China and Canada.
China has lodged a formal complaint with Canada over a t-shirt that had been ordered by a staff member of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing.
The shirt features a bat print and the text ‘Wuhan’, which is the name of the city from where the coronavirus pandemic first emerged. China has taken it as a reference to the allegation that the virus first developed in China from bats, following which it spread to Wuhan’s community and then to the rest of the world from there.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “We are very shocked by this and have lodged representations with Canada, asking for a thorough investigation and a clear explanation”.
Canada said it regretted this “misunderstanding”, clarifying that the t-shirt has a “stylized” shape of the English letter ‘W’, which is the symbol of the American hip-hop group ‘Wu-Tang Clan’.
A spokesperson for Canada’s Foreign Service said, “The t-shirt logo designed by a member of the embassy shows a stylized W, and is not intended to represent a bat. It was created for the team of the embassy staff working on repatriation of Canadians from Wuhan in early 2020”.
The relations between the two countries had been strained in 2018 when the Canadian police had arrested the Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Meng Wanzhou, following which China arrested two Canadian men and accused them of spying.