Canada has said it regrets a “misunderstanding” after a diplomat ordered a custom T-shirt showing the word “Wuhan” over the bat-like emblem of hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, prompting a formal complaint from China.
The American group’s logo is a stylised “W”. Reports of the T-shirt order circulating on China’s Twitter-like Weibo described it as depicting a bat, without mentioning Wu-Tang Clan. Many scientists suspect bats to have been a reservoir for Cocivd-19 before it jumped to humans.
It was not immediately clear how images of the T-shirt logo, which the Canadian embassy said was created early last year, came to circulate on Chinese social media.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Monday: “We are very shocked by this and have lodged representations with Canada, asking for a thorough investigation and a clear explanation.” The virus should not be linked to specific countries or regions, he told the daily briefing.
Beijing has been highly sensitive about the source of the virus, and has sought to cast doubt on the notion that it originated in China.
A spokesperson for Canada’s foreign service told Reuters on Tuesday: “We regret the misunderstanding.”
“The T-shirt logo designed by a member of the embassy shows a stylised W, and is not intended to represent a bat. It was created for the team of embassy staff working on repatriation of Canadians from Wuhan in early 2020.”
Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have been strained since late 2018, when China arrested two Canadian men and accused them of spying, shortly after Canadian police arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant.
A team led by the World Health Organization is in Wuhan investigating the outbreak’s origins.