Mars Wrigley, maker of the Snickers candy bar, apologized on Friday for launching a Snickers product that Chinese social media users said suggested Taiwan was a country. Videos and images showing a Snickers website promoting a limited-edition Snickers bar and claiming the product was only available in the ‘countries’ of South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan have sparked Friday a wave of anger on the Chinese Weibo microblogging platform.
Mars Wrigley later posted an apology on his Snickers China Weibo account and said the affected content had been edited. “Mars Wrigley respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and conducts its business activities in strict accordance with local Chinese laws and regulations,” Mars Wrigley added.
However, the social media backlash did not subside as many users were furious that the US company’s statement did not say Taiwan was part of China, a cornerstone of Chinese foreign policy. “Say it: Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory!” read a comment under the post on the Snickers China Weibo account which received 8,000 likes.
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The Taiwan question is a hangover from a brutal civil war in China that ended in 1949 with defeated nationalists fleeing to the island while the victorious Chinese Communist Party took control of mainland China. Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island’s future. Snickers joins a long list of foreign brands that have been forced to apologize after being challenged by Chinese social media users for not using Beijing’s preferred nomenclature for the island: Taiwan Province or Taiwan (China ).
The outcry over the Snickers ad came as sensitivities surrounding Taiwan in mainland China are at their highest in decades after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island on Tuesday, prompting China to announce unprecedented live-fire exercises around the island and a long list of import bans on Taiwanese products. On China’s highly censored social media platforms, calls for Beijing to launch a military assault on Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit have spread.
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