KEA has become the latest international company to face the inexhaustible wrath of China’s nationalistic netizens and state media who accuse the Swedish furniture giant of violating the “one China” policy by putting China and Taiwan on the same level in its packaging and on its website.
The fuss apparently began earlier this month with a Weibo user buying a vase at IKEA and returning home to find that the product’s packaging refers to Taiwan in the same way that it does China. “IKEA makes money from Chinese people but is trying to separate China?” the web user wrote.
Soon, other Weibo users also began to complain about how IKEA’s product packaging gave Taiwan the status of an independent country.
Chinese netizens have called on Ikea to abide by the one-China principle, after discovering that the company's packaging lists the Taiwan island on par with China pic.twitter.com/YgA0CfTUfc
— People's Daily,China (@PDChina) August 28, 2018
On Tuesday, state-run tabloid theGlobal Timesran a story on the complaints, noting how China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong were all listed separately on the company’s locations page, as opposed to its listings for “Spain-Mainland” and “Spain- Balearics and Canary Islands.”
This year, Beijing has seriously ramped up efforts against Taiwan, pressuring companies to choose sides and forcing public apologies from a number of well-known brands for violating the “one China” policy and hurting the feelings of the Chinese people by implying in one way or another that Taiwan is a country.
Back in May, Japanese retailer Muji was fined 200,000 yuan for selling 119 imported clothes hangers in China which were labeled as being “Made in Taiwan” and had “Taiwan” listed as their “country of origin.” Two months earlier, Walmart issued a public apology after a customer at one of its Beijing outlets discovered that imported products from South Korea and the United Kingdom listed their “place of origin,” while a sign for those products from Taiwan read “country of origin.”
“Once again, we reaffirm that we will never permit any deliberate actions made to undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will also never do anything to encourage these actions in any form. We are deeply aware of the seriousness of this mistake and sincerely apologize again for hurting the feelings of the public and our loyal customers,” read Walmart’s apology.
IKEA has yet to respond to accusations of it violating the “one China” policy and a mass boycott of IKEA on the Chinese mainland seems incredibly unlikely. After all, where else would people nap?