Pandemics are temporary; Wu-Tang is forever. Unfortunately, while that motto is becoming more and more well known here in the US, it’s a different story abroad, where apparel saluting the crew caused a minor political incident in China — the nation that influenced much of the Clan’s aesthetic and sound. Chinese officials took issue with a T-shirt bearing a “bat symbol” that any fan could tell is Wu-Tang Clan’s “W” logo, according to the Associated Press.
The group’s logo, which normally features the name superimposed through the stylized “W” shape, was altered on the T-shirts to read “Wuhan” instead. According to the report, the shirts were made in China but ordered last summer by someone at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. Locals interpreted the “W” as a racist dig against the city where the first outbreak of COVID-19 was reported, believing that the shape behind the city’s name was a bat — referring, of course, to the misconception that the novel version of the coronavirus mutated after a person cooked and ate an infected bat.
According to AP, Chinese officials weren’t convinced that the shirt wasn’t intended as a slight. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “The wrongdoing of the Canadian staff concerned has already caused an egregious impact and triggered strong resentment and discontent among the ordinary Chinese people. The Canadian side should take the matter seriously and give a clear explanation to the Chinese side as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, the Canadian embassy said that the employee who ordered the shirt did so on their own initiative for members of a team “working on repatriation of Canadians from Wuhan in early 2020.” By the way, just in case there’s any doubt about whether or not the symbol in question was meant to represent a bat or a W, here it is below, courtesy of New York Times Hong Kong reporter Austin Ramzy.
China's Foreign Ministry says it has lodged a solemn representation with the Canadian Embassy over reports staff ordered t-shirts last year with "Wuhan" and a "bat symbol." Per blogger Zhou Xiaoping, this is the image. Any hip-hop fan can tell you though that's a W for the Wu pic.twitter.com/ooTFzh2oRn
— Austin Ramzy (@austinramzy) February 1, 2021
As usual, that other old aphorism holds true: “Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to f*ck with.”