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Hennes & Mauritz AB’s problems in Asia deepened after a “troublesome” map on its website came to the attention of Chinese authorities, and the retailer’s attempts to resolve the issue angered consumers in Vietnam.
H & M’s Shanghai unit was summoned by two city regulators to correct errors in the image, and the company said it will carry out the rectification, according to the local arm of the China Cyberspace Administration. on Friday. It did not elaborate on the corrections that were ordered, and it is not immediately clear which map on H & M’s website is in question.
The Swedish company’s changes to its map are infringing on Vietnam’s maritime sovereignty, the Saigon newspaper Giai Phong reported, citing the president of one of the country’s consumer rights associations. H&M spokespersons in China and Stockholm did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside of business hours.
Scrapped in China: the terrible year of H&M CEO Helena Helmersson
H&M recently became a prominent example of foreign companies being punished for crossing China’s political lines, facing the brunt of the government’s anger at clothing retailers who criticize human rights abuses in the Xinjiang cotton-producing region.
The Communist Youth League and the People’s Liberation Army summoned him for a statement dating back to September and expressed concern over reports of Uighurs in forced labor. H&M outlets disappeared from Apple Maps and Baidu Maps searches, and owners closed some stores in smaller cities.
China claims more than 80% of the South China Sea and backs up its claim with a 1947 map showing vague dashes, the so-called nine-dash line, which extends to a point about 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) to the south. from his island of Hainan. Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan claim parts of the same maritime area, and have clashed with China over which claims are valid.
China has an 800,000-square-mile ‘city’ on the South China Sea
Vietnamese law prohibits companies from using images that violate their sovereignty, which represents the nine-dash line, Saigon Giai Phong said. H&M opened its first store in Ho Chi Minh City in 2017 and now has 12 outlets across the country, according to the newspaper.
On the Internet, Vietnamese consumers criticized H & M’s informed consent to Chinese authorities. Some called for a boycott of H&M products, demanding that the company apologize to Vietnam and restore the map changes or close its outlets in Vietnam, Saigon Giai Phong said.
Why the South China Sea fuels tensions between the United States and China: QuickTake
H&M is the latest example of a company caught in geopolitical cross fires as countries battle over issues ranging from sovereignty claims to maritime borders.
In 2019, Vietnam ordered theaters to halt screenings of DreamWorks Animation’s “Abominable” because it showed the nine-dash line on a map. That same year, Vietnam said it will fine the local Volkswagen AG dealer and an importer for displaying a car with a navigation app that reflects Chinese territorial claims.
While Vietnam has been the most assertive nation in the region in rejecting Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, tensions have also been simmering between the Philippines and China.
The presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels near a reef in the South China Sea last month shows Beijing’s intention to occupy more disputed areas, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Sunday.
The Chinese embassy in Manila said the waters where the boats were sighted were “traditional fishing grounds” and “part of China’s Nansha Islands.” The Philippines had issued a formal diplomatic protest to China on the matter, saying the ships’ presence raised concerns about overfishing and the safety of navigation.
– With the assistance of John Boudreau, Lin Zhu, Rafaela Lindeberg and Daniela Wei