Retailer Gap apologises for T-shirts with 'incorrect' map of China

Fredrick Soto
May 15, 2018

U.S. clothes giant GAP said it was "extremely sorry" for selling a T-shirt with an "incomplete" map of China, after it was accused of being disrespectful to the country's territorial sovereignty.

In January 2018, China shut down the websites of hotel chain Marriott International after the company listed Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as individual nations on an online customer survey.

"Upon the realization that one of our T-shirts sold in some overseas markets mistakenly failed to reflect the correct map of China, we urgently launched an internal investigation across the group and have made a decision to immediately pull back this T-shirt from all the concerned global markets", the company said in a statement, adding that the shirts had already been pulled from Chinese shelves and destroyed.

A photo of a gray T-shirt featuring the word "China" alongside a silhouette of a map of mainland China-which was notably missing several China-claimed territories-went viral on the Weibo social network, prompting outrage for being "incomplete". The fashion retailer has also pulled the product off its shelves in China and destroyed the shirts, a statement on its Weibo read. "We sincerely apologize for this unintentional error", Gap said in a statement, according to China's Global Times newspaper. As stated by the user, the photograph of the T-shirt was taken at an outlet store in Canada.

China noted Gap's apology and "will follow carefully their actions and remarks later on", Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily briefing in Beijing.

"We have noticed this (Gap) statement and we will pay close attention to it", Lu said.

Taiwan is China's most sensitive territorial issue.

China's strong-arming of USA businesses prompted a harsh response from the White House last week.

Representatives of Japan Airlines 9201.T , All Nippon Airways, Australia's Qantas Airways and Korean Air Lines 003490.KS said recently they all received a letter from China requesting changes to their sites' references to Taiwan.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since splitting from the mainland after a 1949 civil war, maintaining its own government, military and independent foreign policy.

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