Canada regrets ‘misunderstanding’ over Wu-Tang symbol on diplomat’s Wuhan T-shirt

Canada has said it regrets a “misunderstanding” after a Canadian diplomat in Beijing bought a T-shirt showing “Wuhan” over the bat-like logo used by hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.

The row arose after it emerged a Canadian Embassy staff member had created an item of clothing which allegedly mocked the Chinese response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Users of China’s social media platform Weibo claimed the ‘W’ symbol on the T-shirt depicted a bat. But the Canadian government suggested the stylised ‘W’ was the same one used by rap legends Wu-Tang Clan.

China had made a formal complaint and a foreign ministry spokesperson called on Canada to “thoroughly investigate the incident and give China a clear explanation.”

Stopping short of an apology, a spokesperson for Canada’s foreign service said: “We regret the misunderstanding.”

Despite the use of the word Wuhan, the foreign service insisted there had been no attempt to make fun of the city, where the very first Covid-19 illnesses were first reported in late 2019.

“The T-shirt logo designed by a member of the embassy shows a stylised W, and is not intended to represent a bat. It was created for the team of embassy staff working on repatriation of Canadians from Wuhan in early 2020,” a spokesperson told Reuters.

The T-shirts at the centre of the row were reportedly ordered last summer, and it is not clear if any of them are still in circulation.

China’s government has been extremely sensitive to accusations it was the source of the pandemic and failed to respond quickly enough when cases were first reported in Wuhan.

The controversy underscores the plunge in relations between the countries in the past two years over China’s demand that Canada release a top executive of communications giant Huawei, wanted on fraud charges in the US.

Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, denies the charges. China says her case is politically motivated as part of a US effort to stifle the nation’s global economic expansion. Her lawyers argue she has been subjected to abuse of process and should be freed.

Canada arrested Ms Meng at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018. In apparent retaliation, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor, and placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China.


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