Zara is the latest brand to be forced to clarify its stance amid Hong Kong's ongoing political crisis, after one of its Hong Kong stores was found closed during a city-wide strike on Monday.
Hong Kong protesters planned a two-day general strike on Monday and Tuesday, during which a picture of a Zara store closure notice went viral on Weibo.
The notice led many Chinese netizens to claim that Zara is supporting the strike, called by Hong Kong protesters as a rebuke of China, while reaping huge profits from China’s rapid economic development in the past decade.
In response, Zara made a statement on Weibo on Monday night, saying it “never supports strikes, nor does it make relevant statements or actions.”
“Zara embraces China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and has always supported the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement,” the statement continued.
On Tuesday morning, Zara has become the top trending topic on Weibo, with #Zarastatement garnering over 170 million views in about two hours.
People are split in their discussions under the hashtag, with a small portion calling for a boycott, while most either calling for those Weibo users not to be too sensitive or expressing support for the brand.
One Weibo user named “扛枪牵狗跟我走” posted: “Please explain why the store closed on Monday. A perfunctory statement can’t appease our anger,” along with a couple of Byebye emojis.
Another user named “樱桃大王0310” commented below Zara's statement: “Closing doors doesn’t mean supporting strikes. It’s simply to avoid losses from chaos and to ensure shoppers’ safety. Zara is definitely an ethical company.”
Early in January 2018, Zara attracted widespread criticism in China after it was found to have listed Taiwan as a country on its Chinese website.