American cosmetics company in hot water for excluding Taiwan from map of China

Chinese consumers cry foul after MAC Cosmetics ad leaves out Taiwan in map of China

Weibo image (left), MAC image (right).

Weibo image (left), MAC image (right).

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- MAC Cosmetics, a New York retailer owned by Estee Lauder, has had to scramble to apologize to irate Chinese consumers after they discovered that Taiwan was excluded from a map of China in an email advertisement it recently sent out.

The company drew the ire of Chinese customers after a marketing email sent by the magazine Women's day to its U.S. customers did not include Taiwan in its map of China. The ad, which went with the tagline "Girl Power," showed several countries with different varieties of its makeup.

However, copies of the ad somehow found their way to social media in China, where netizens quickly panicked over the lack of Taiwan on the makeup map of the communist country. Beijing claims that Taiwan is part of China, though it actually never was a part of the People's Republic of China and is functionally independent with its own democratically-elected government, military, currency, passport, and free press.

Chinese netizens on China's tightly controlled social media platforms complained that MAC Cosmetics had shown no respect for China's so-called 'one China' principle and dreams of 'reunification' with Taiwan. "I'm Chinese first, then a consumer. Only if you respect the market can the market support you back," wrote one netizen reported Asia Times.

In reference to the numerous other incidents of Beijing bullying multinational corporations in adhering to its rules on references to Taiwan on websites, one Chinese netizen wrote: "Haven't there been enough similar incidents in the past to learn from?"

Fearing more fallout in the China market, MAC issued a "corrected" email, launched an investigation, and said it respected and supported the "one China' principle, according to the report.

MAC's brand spokesman in China, Zhang Yixing, then took to Weibo (China's version of Twitter) to issue a statement: “I believe that every Chinese employee at MAC is as clear as I am: No mistakes can be made on territorial questions. I hope that the [MAC] headquarters in the US can attach the same level of importance, correct the error as soon as possible, and never do it again.”

Chinese netizens were not alone in their dissatisfaction over the cosmetic company's maps. There were also complaints by American customers for leaving out Alaska and Hawaii from a map of the U.S., while there were errors reported with its map of France as well.

Last year, China stepped up its strategy of what has been described as "namefare" on Taiwan, forcing private companies and governments to change the name of Taiwan to "Taiwan, China," remove its flag, and include it in maps of China. In response to Beijing's bullying of American companies, Whitehouse spokesperson Sarah Sanders, said in a statement on May 5 of last year that "this is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies."