The Chinese internet is very angry at a Canadian diplomat over his stylized Wu-Tang Clan t-shirt.

Take a look at the Wu-Tang logo. What do you see?

I see some the band’s name written in a vaguely Oriental font atop a stylized W for “Wu-Tang.” But remove the band’s name and you get…

Could that be a…bat? Maybe. It’s not, but depending on your perspective, you might make that mistake.

This brings me to Canadian diplomat Chad Hensler who is stationed in Beijing. He ordered eight t-shirts with “Wu-Tang” changed to “Wu-Han.” The shirts were supposed to be gifts for a group of diplomats who went to Wuhan in the early days of the pandemic. They were purchased with private money and not connected to the embassy in any way.

When the Chinese internet heard about this, the backlash was swift. Even the Chinese government is now in the act, claiming that the diplomat is using these shirts to blame China for letting the COVID virus get out of hand and infecting the world. The theory, of course, is that the virus found its way from bats to humans. The Chinese are very sensitive about this.

“China is shocked by this,” said a government spokesperson and wants the Canadian embassy to “immediately investigate this matter thoroughly and give China a clear explanation.”

Here’s the explanation: It’s a W, not a bat. It was designed back in 1993 by Ronald Bean, better known as Mathematics. It has since appeared in a million places and is one of the greatest examples of hip-hop logo design anywhere.

Yet we have comments like this: “Those t-shirts were used by Canada to humiliate our country.” Another comment: “[Canada is a] “shameless” Western country with “no bottom line, no morality, and no sense of responsibility…I’d love to ask these nasty Canadian diplomats: Do you smoke too much pot or are just perverts?”

Or how about this: “If you dare to wear the bat shirt on Chinese soil, you will be sent to your god with an English longbow.”

Whoa. Chill, dude. It’s not a bat. It’s a W.

This hasn’t helped the frosty relations between Canada and China over things like the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanghou, the imprisonment of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and China’s treatment the country’s Uighur minority.

Canada has apologized for the misunderstanding (because that’s what we do). No word from Wu-Tang Clan yet.

(Via The Globe and Mail)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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