Earlier this week, images of the Wuhan T-shirt, which features a stylized “W” that resembles a bat, went viral on Chinese social media, as the parcel sticker indicated the delivery destination to be the Canadian embassy in Beijing and the recipient to be Canadian diplomat Chad Hensler.
Chinese netizens found the bat-like resemblance of the American hip hop group logo as offensive, seeing it as referencing early reports of the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which was initially reported to have surfaced after a man in Wuhan had eaten a bat.
While neither Hensler nor the Canadian embassy have commented on the incident, a Canadian Foreign Affairs official confirmed that Hensler had ordered the T-shirts.
“The T-shirt logo designed by a member of the Embassy shows a stylized W, and is not intended to represent a bat. It was created for the team of Embassy staff working on repatriation of Canadians from Wuhan in early 2020,” the official told Reuters in an email on Feb. 2. “We regret the misunderstanding.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin demanded that Canada “immediately thoroughly investigate the incident and give China a clear explanation” during a press conference on Feb. 1.
Former Canadian Ambassador to China David Mulroney, however, wrote on Twitter: “I worked with Chad, who is smart, decent, dedicated. We’re lucky to have him. Not his fault if China goes batty over the Wu-Tang Clan’s logo. Guilty conscience?”
Beijing has taken a hostile stance against Ottawa following Canada’s 2018 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Hauwei, on an extradition request from the United States. Meng faces bank fraud charges for allegedly misleading HSBC to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Shortly after Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians—Michael Spavor and and Michael Kovrig—who are still being held in Chinese prisons.
Wu-Tang Clan’s logo does not depict a bat, but is a stylized “W” drawn by member Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, known as RZA.
Beijing has fiercely rejected allegations of being the origin of the CCP virus, and instead promoted theories about international transmission from a U.S. military base that have little international scientific backing.
The World Health Organization dispatched a team of medical experts to Wuhan in January 2021 to investigate the origin of the CCP virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease. The probe was agreed to by Chinese authorities after extended negotiations and delays.