Ambassadors of Chinese fashion label brands from Coach to Givenchy have broken ties with companies over products that they claim violate China's sovereignty, defining Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries.
The brands are the latest to enter hot water because of political issues in China, which is more insistent on its territorial claims and how it expects foreign companies doing business in China to describe them.
Italian luxury label Versace and its artistic director Donatella Versace have apologized on Sunday after one of his T-shirts depicting Hong Kong and Macao territories as countries was criticized on Chinese social media.
Coach ambassador to China, supermodel Liu Wen, told Weibo on Monday that she split her approval agreement with the New York label over a similar T-shirt that also lists Taiwan as a country, though Beijing says the ruled island is renegade province.
"I apologize to everyone for the damage I caused as a result of my less careful branding," she said in a Weibo post that has been "liked" hundreds of thousands of times.
"I love my homeland and stubbornly defend China's sovereignty."
The coach, whose parent is Tapestry Inc., said he discovered "serious inaccuracy" in May 2018 and immediately pulled his T-shirts from all of his global channels. He added that he "deeply" regretted the design.
"We have also reviewed our range to ensure compliance and strengthened our internal product development process to avoid such a problem in the future," it said.
"The coach respects and supports China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The Coach theme was the hottest topic in Chinese Weibo on Monday morning, receiving 1.2 billion views.
Separately, the popular Chinese idol of the boy group Jackson Ye said he had broken ties with Givenchy at LVMH after photos of one of the brand's T-shirts, which also listed Hong Kong and Taiwan in a similar fashion, received criticism.
Givenchy was not immediately available for comment on Monday when he contacted Reuters,
Foreign brands are under increasing pressure from Chinese consumers and regulators to settle disputes over Chinese sovereignty and its territorial claims.
Taiwan is self-governing and has democratically elected leadership, but China claims the island is a breakaway province and does not rule out the use of force to secure unification. The issue of Taiwan's official independence is one of Beijing's most sensitive political issues.
Beijing also faces one of its most popular challenges facing Chinese leader Xi Jinping since coming to power in Hong Kong in 2012, where protesters say they are fighting the erosion of the one-two-system agreement, the autonomy of Hong Kong when China took it in 1997.