Dwyane Wade Caught Up In China-Tibet Social Media Controversy

A deal with Dwyane Wade and Li-Ning ignited a firestorm of controversy when the sportswear brand posted a map of China without Tibet

Jul 21, 2015 at 10:21 AM ET

Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning made a snafu on Instagram this week when it posted a map of China to promote Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade’s tour through the country. The problem? The map didn’t include Tibet, over which many Chinese still take pride in ruling.

The map, which was posted to the company’s official Instagram account and Wade’s tour website, garnered criticism over the weekend on Chinese social media platform Weibo. User “Gao” wrote a blog post, which made it to the top trending topics on Weibo. But three hours later, his post was removed from the internet, he told the South China Morning Post.

Li-Ning got so much flack that it apologized on its official Weibo account on Sunday for the map. Its apology had about 1,500 shares and more than 1,000 comments, most of them blasting the apology. Criticism was so potent that Li Ning himself, founder of the company, apologized on his official Weibo account:

Tibet is an autonomous region of China. It’s technically under Chinese rule but has many separatist factions. China claims to have sovereignty over Tibet, and many Chinese see it that way, but many Tibetans see Beijing as a repressive threat.