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On 1 July, the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty, a 50-year-old man stabbed a Hong Kong police officer, before piercing himself in the chest with the knife. Described by authorities as a “lone-wolf domestic terrorist”, the assailant has been identified as a purchasing agent at the Vitasoy drinks company.
Word Of Honour star Gong Jun, who was the ambassador for Vitasoy, has since announced through Weibo that he had terminated all collaborations with the company. The statement read, “The company and Gong Jun are fully against any form of violence, terrorism and any extremist act. We are determined to maintain social stability and the interests of the motherland. We will not tolerate any violence or any act that supports violence.”
Gong Jun’s decision apparently came after Vitasoy issued an internal memo that expressed “deepest condolences” to the family of the assailant, and described his suicide as “unfortunate”. The improper choice of words has led many Chinese netizens to boycott Vitasoy, causing its shares to plunge. Chinese actor Ren Jialun, who had endorsed Vitasoy as well, has also halted all activities with the drinks company.
In light of the incident, Vitasoy clarified on Weibo that the memo was made by an individual employee, which was not authorised by the company, and did not follow the internal approval process. Vitasoy affirmed that the memo’s wording was inappropriate, and would pursue legal charges on the employee.
Vitasoy added that they supported Hong Kong’s prosperity, stability and development, and severely condemned violence and acts that damaged Hong Kong’s social stability. They would also fully support and assist the Hong Kong police and the Hong Kong government in investigating the 1 July incident.
However, it seems the clarification, which focused on Hong Kong and did not mention China, was futile in appeasing the Chinese netizens’ anger. Although comments have been turned off for the Weibo post, netizens were still able to repost it, with some saying they did not believe Vitasoy, while some asked for an apology.
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