Sportswear brand Li-Ning in crisis management after posting map of China without Tibet to Instagram

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 July, 2015, 6:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 July, 2015, 12:07pm

A social media gaffe has overshadowed American basketball star Dwyane Wade's Chinese tour after sponsor Li-Ning posted a map of China showing his planned route which did not include Tibet.

The map, which was published on the tour's website and its official Instagram account, was spotted by a Weibo user surnamed Gao over the weekend.

Gao wrote a blog post highlighting the gaffe which quickly surged to the top of the most discussed list on the microblogging service. But the article was removed three hours later, he told the South China Morning Post.

Li-Ning apologised on its official Weibo account on Sunday, blaming US advertising agency Que-In for the mistake. That post was shared almost 1,500 times, with more than a thousand comments, many highly critical of the company and its apology.

As the backlash continued, the founder and namesake of the company, three-time Olympic gold medalist Li Ning, also apologised on his own Weibo account.

The scandal came in the same week as Li-Ning launched its new smart running shoes in partnership with Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi.

Xiaomi has had its own problems with maps. In January, the company's vice president Hugo Barra used a map of India during a smartphone launch in New Delhi showing the disputed Aksai Chin border region in Tibet as being part of India.

Barra apologised on his Weibo account the next day after intense criticism.

Li-Ning, which has been listed in Hong Kong since 2004, has struggled in recent years. Over the last three years, the company lost more than 3.15 billion yuan (US$563 million), according to its annual reports.