Gap in hot water with China over T-shift snafu

Sean Reid
May 15, 2018

The apology came after a person posted pictures of the T-shirt on Chinese social media network Weibo, saying that Chinese-claimed territories, including south Tibet, the island of Taiwan and the South China Sea were indeed omitted.

United States retail giant, Gap has issued an apology after selling a T-shirt displaying the wrong map of China after the design omitted Chinese-claimed territories including islands in the South China Sea, Taiwan and south Tibet. According to the state-owned Global Times, the map also left out southern Tibet and the South China Sea.

The Global Times newspaper said that "hundreds of Weibo users (were) protesting the company's act of disrespect to China's territorial sovereignty".

Gap, in a statement posted on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, admitted that a Gap brand T-shirt sold in some overseas markets "mistakenly failed to reflect the correct map of China".

Several other large Western brands apologized for errors related to territorial issues in China.

"We have removed the product from the Chinese market and destroyed them all".

The name change came in the wake of letters sent by China's Civil Aviation Administration in late April, pressuring 36 American and worldwide airlines to remove references to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as countries on their websites and marketing materials.

In January, China forced US-based hotel chain Marriott International to shut down and "conduct a full content inspection" of its Chinese website and mobile app after a questionnaire that listed Taiwan and Tibet as individual countries led to complaints.

"Gap Inc respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China", the statement reads.

In the past, Delta and clothing retailer Zara also found themselves in similar situations for treating China and Taiwan as separate countries. But Gap's China headquarters in Shanghai said the T-shirt had not been released in China. Other T-shirts in the range show San Francisco, Paris, Japan and Canada but are decorated with national flags rather than maps.

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