On the evening of April 2, the search phrase “H&M relation to problematic map" suddenly topped searches on the Chinese social network Weibo. As of 9:30 am on April 3, it had reached 410 million readers.
The source was originally posted by a WeChat account of Netcom Shanghai, which said that a social network user reported to authorities "a problematic China map" on H&M's official website (hm.com) and that H&M edited the map right after receiving a request from the Chinese authorities.
Information shared by Chinese media and celebrities, along with a map showing the 'cow's tongue line'. (Screenshot).
The information was subsequently reported by the People's Daily, the Chinese central television agency CCTV and many other newspapers. The specific content is as follows:
"Recently, netizens reported to authorities that on H&M's official website (hm.com), a 'problematic Chinese map' appeared. The Shanghai Department of Natural Resources and Planning immediately asked H&M to quickly rectify.
After receiving the notice, Haines Morris Co., Ltd (Shanghai Haynes Morris Commercial) - the company that operates H&M's official website - corrected the mistake immediately. The Shanghai Department of Natural Resources and Planning and the Shanghai Internet Information Office had a meeting with them.
During the meeting, the two agencies seriously pointed out the violation of H&M and ordered H&M to set up a network in accordance with the law, to seriously study the 'Chinese Cyber Security Law', 'China’s mapping law', 'Map management regulations'... together with other laws and regulations, to build a solid sense of national maps, to correctly implement 'rules of map use'.
The two agencies clearly defined that the person in charge of the business must preside over the reorganization of the website content. The management body will supervise and monitor this task in the coming time. The Company (H&M) said it had accepted the management body’s warning and would implement practical corrections.
By the evening of April 3, this was still a hot topic on Chinese and Vietnamese social networks. Many Vietnamese netizens shared images and hashtags with information that H&M had posted a map of China's illegal "cow's tongue line", and they called for a boycott of this brand.
So what is the "problematic map" mentioned by the Chinese media? How is it related to the illegal "cow's tongue line" that Vietnamese netizens condemned?
It is not clear what content the Chinese authorities asked H&M to correct, or whether they asked H&M to show the "cow's tongue line" in the previous map, but according to Chinese authorities, the map that does not have a serial number or wrong country boundaries (including the 'cow's tongue line'), omitting islands such as Dieu Ngu (Diaoyu Island), Chiwei Island, Hainan Island and Taiwan is considered “problematic”.
There is no information about whether or not H&M has confirmed that it has officially corrected the map.
In latest news, the cross-border e-commerce platform Fado.vn, on April 7, officially announced its indefinite halt of trading items from H&M, following the "problematic map" case, reported Vietnam Plus.
According to Vietnam Plus, CEO of Fado Dat Pham said the suspension of the sale of H&M products on the platform began at 0:00 hours April 7. He said as the Fado.vn team are Vietnamese, they do not cooperate with brands that are disrespectful to Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty.
H&M is now running 12 stores in Vietnam, with the first store opened in Ho Chi Minh City in September 2017.
Some Vietnamese netizens have said that H&M (in China) has posted a "problematic" map that violates Vietnam's maritime sovereignty and called for boycott of this Swedish fashion brand.