There has been a burning rag between China and Canada in recent days, over a diplomatic incident caused by a « racist » T-shirt, promoted by a Canadian diplomat, which has caused great offence in China. The powerful Asian country, very concerned about its image, remains intransigent towards any attempt, proven or not, to associate it negatively with the origins of the Coronavirus.
It all started when Chad Hensler, in mid last year, ordered T-shirts with a bat image around the words « Wu-Han » (the name of the city that would be the official starting point of the Covid-19 pandemic).
The rapid association between the bat, supposedly a reservoir of the virus, and the Chinese city, has caused a wave of indignation on Chinese social networks, on the part of citizens and even government officials.
The latter, rejecting the claim that the manufacturer had confused « Wu-Han » with « Wu-Tang » (named after the famous American Hip-Hop group, « Wu-Tang Clan »), asked the Canadian government to sanction the indexed diplomat and demanded a public apology as soon as possible.
The Chinese media accused Hensler of having deliberately concealed his « bad intentions » since the month of May when he placed the order, and of wanting to suggest that the coronavirus came from a Wuhan bat, in what would be a Western-led smear campaign against China on the question of the origins of the virus (it should be noted that a WHO team laboriously began an investigation into the origins of the virus in Wuhan at the beginning of this year, after multifaceted reticence from Beijing).
For its part, Ottawa said it was an unfortunate « misunderstanding », arguing that the logo was a good representation of the Hip-Hop group, and « [was] not intended to represent a bat » and « were personal gifts for a team of diplomats who went to Wuhan in the early days of the pandemic to help evacuate Canadian citizens, » as reported by a local media outlet, the Globe and Mail.
The diplomatic spat comes at a time when relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent months, with Canada’s coolness towards China, accused of not being very transparent in the early days of the pandemic.
Tensions are also present, against the backdrop of an East-West tug-of-war, on the ground of major Chinese technology companies, with the arrest and detention by Canada of Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of Huawei (and daughter of the founder, Ren Zhengfei), in a case in which she faces up to 30 years in prison.