Chinese consumers are calling for a boycott of Burger King after the brand's Taiwanese franchise referred to the coronavirus as the 'Wuhan pneumonia'.
The controversy began on Wednesday when Burger King Taiwan described their food delivery service as the 'nemesis of the Wuhan pneumonia' in a Facebook post.
The brand's Chinese operator has apologised to the public 'on behalf of Burger King Taiwan' on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter.
Burger King Taiwan was introducing its new contactless delivery service when it used the term.
'Select "deliver it at the door" on your payment page to avoid the Wuhan pneumonia,' the post claimed.
After sparking outrage on Chinese social media, Burger King Taiwan first changed the controversial phrase to 'coronavirus pneumonia' but later deleted the post altogether.
Though the Taiwanese franchise didn't release any statements following the deleted post, Burger King China issued an apology on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo yesterday.
'Even though Burger King China and Burger King Taiwan are managed by two different companies, we are angered by their irresponsible comment,' the Chinese franchisee wrote in a statement on Sunday.
Burger King China said they had contacted the chain's Taiwan operator and 'demanded they delete the post that hurt everyone's feelings.'
The Chinese operator said they also donated one million yuan (£113,527) to help Wuhan fight the coronavirus despite suffering a profit cut.
Taiwanese people have responded to the incident by commenting with a hashtag 'Chinese Wuhan pneumonia' on Burger King Taiwan's Facebook page.
MailOnline has contacted Burger King for comment and is awaiting a reply.
China and Taiwan have a long-standing dispute over the island's legal status. Most Chinese people consider Taiwan as a part of its territory, but many Taiwanese want a separate nation.
From 1683 to 1895, Taiwan was ruled by China's Qing dynasty. After Japan claimed its victory in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Qing government forced to cede Taiwan to Japan.
But the island was under the Republic of China's ruling again after World War II, with the consent of its allies the US and UK.
The leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party, Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 and established his government after losing the Civil War to the Communist Party and its leader Mao Zedong. Chiang's son continued to rule Taiwan after his father and began democratising Taiwan.
In 1980, China put forward a formula called 'one country, two systems', under which Taiwan would be given significant autonomy if it accepted Chinese reunification. Taiwan rejected the offer.
Taiwan today, with its own constitution and democratically-elected leaders, is widely accepted in the West as an independent state. But its political status remains unclear.
The news comes as Burger King becomes latest fast food chain in UK to shut its doors amid coronavirus crisis.
All major fast food restaurants, including McDonald's and KFC, in the UK closed their doors last week amid the escalating pandemic.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered all non-essential shops and food outlets to close as part of a nationwide lockdown.
Britons are now only allowed out of their homes to buy food, collect medical supplies and exercise once a day after 1,228 people died and nearly 20,000 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.