Zhang Yixing, a Chinese super star known popularly as Lay and a member of K-pop boy band Exo, has cancelled his contract with Samsung Electronics due to the company allegedly "hurting the national feelings of Chinese compatriots."
Zhang, who has been a Samsung Electronics brand ambassador in China since December, made his move as the company faces intense criticism, sparked by Chinese social media users noticing that Samsung’s website offers different language options – English, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese – to users from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan, with all three being listed as "countries."
"Its act of blurring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country has seriously hurt the national feelings of our compatriots, which we strongly condemn," Zhang's Chinese agency said in a statement posted on its Weibo account, as quoted by AFP.
The news agency noted that Samsung declined to comment on this matter, and that the hashtag #ZhangYixing Ditches Samsung# quickly went viral on social media, with Zhang’s cancellation notice accruing about 840 million views since it was posted less than a day ago.
Earlier this week, Austrian jewellery company Swarovski, apologised for "hurting the feelings" of Chinese people by listing Hong Kong as a separate country on the company’s website, while luxury brands Versace, Coach, and Givenchy offered their apologies for T-shirts labelling Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries.
China does not recognise the independence of Taiwan, instead choosing to regard the island as a breakaway province. The "One China" policy implies that the countries seeking to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing must break official ties with Taipei.