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How A Wu-Tang Clan Shirt Sparked A Diplomatic Dispute Between China and Canada

A Canadian diplomat’s Wu-Tang Clan shirt has led to a formal complaint from the Chinese government.

On Tuesday, Canadian embassy representatives told Reuters that they regretted a “misunderstanding” with Chinese diplomats. The dispute centers around T-shirts ordered from the Canadian embassy depicting the iconic Wu-Tang Clan logo, emblazoned with the word Wuhan, one of the cities where the COVID-19 virus originally broke out. Many Chinese reporters on the social media site Weibo, where the image first surfaced, described the logo as bat-like.

“We are very shocked by this,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday. “And have lodged representations with Canada, asking for a thorough investigation and a clear explanation.”

Many scientists suspect the intermediate horseshoe bat was an original vector for the virus and spread it to humans. Nearly two-thirds of the early China cases were attributed to people visiting the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, Hubei, China. It is possible, however, that the virus naturally emerged months before.

The Canadian embassy says the logo was created early last year. For an unknown reason, however, the image began circulating on Weibo.

Relations between the Canadian and Chinese embassies have been strained since 2018, when China arrested two Canadian men and accused them of spying. The arrests came shortly after Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese chief financial officer accused of conspiracy to defraud multiple institutions on a United States warrant. Meng is alleged to have mislead the Hong-Kong/Shanghai Banking Corporation about her company’s business dealings in Iran, which violated United States’ sanctions.

“The T-shirt logo designed by a member of the Embassy shows a stylized W,” a Canadian spokesperson said. “[It] is not intended to represent a bat. It was created for the team of Embassy staff working on a repatriation of Canadians from Wuhan in early 2020. We regret the misunderstanding.”

The Wu-Tang Clan has not released a statement on the controversy. Stay tuned for further updates.

Torry Threadcraft

Torry Threadcraft is a writer who covers music, sports, and culture. You can find his daily ramblings and culinary takes at @dreadcraft.

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