Spanish fashion brand Zara - who's global reach includes retail stores in Hong Kong - sought to distance itself from the controversy there, saying it does not support the Hong Kong protests or latest student strike.
The post came after a Hong Kong newspaper asked if the closure of four Hong Kong Zara stores on Monday was in support of the strike.
The company - owned by the world’s biggest clothing retailer, Inditex - posted a statement on Chinese social media site Weibo saying, "ZARA supports One Country, Two Systems and defends the integrity of Chinese sovereignty over its territory.
ZARA has never supported the general strike and has never published statements supporting or taken part in related activities." The brand became a top trending topic on Weibo, with one hashtag, “Zara statement”, viewed more than 170 million times as of Tuesday morning.
Reaction to the company's statement appeared mixed among locals.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) 34-YEAR-OLD HONG KONG RESIDENT AND RECEPTIONIST, KAREN, SAYING: "I think it is not suitable for a global company to just mention, tell the world what they think about politics because they are doing business not in politics.
I don't think it is really good." (SOUNDBITE) (English) 31-YEAR-OLD HONG KONG RESIDENT AND BANKER, KYLE LAM, SAYING: "There is no right and wrong - everyone has the right to express their own opinion and we totally respect anyone's opinion." Thousands of Hong Kong university and high school students boycotted class Monday and rallied peacefully for democracy, following a weekend marred by some of the worst violence since unrest escalated more than three months ago.
Foreign brands are under increasing pressure from Chinese consumers and regulators to fall in line on contentious issues around Chinese sovereignty and its territorial claims. Inditex has hundreds of stores in China, including other fashion brands Massimo Dutti and Bershka.
China is second only to domestic market Spain in number of stores for the retailer.