Gap apologizes to China for offense caused by T-shirts

Gap T Shirt with map of China

United States retailer Gap has apologised for selling T-shirts which it said showed an "incorrect map" of China.

On Monday (May 14), a Chinese user of the social media platform Weibo (China's equivalent to Twitter) at 8:25 a.m. posted an image of a Gap T-shirt taken at an outlet store in Canada showing a map of China with Taiwan not included.

Gap Inc became the latest worldwide company to apologize for offending Chinese political sensibilities, pulling a T-shirt featuring a map of China that left out territories claimed by the country.

The shirt featuring a map of China - which Business Insider found was still available for sale on the US Gap Factory site for $7.99 on Monday evening - caused something of an worldwide uproar because it omitted South Tibet, Taiwan, and islands in the South China Sea - territories that China claims as its own.

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The offending T-shirt showed a map of China without including Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing says is an integral part of the country.

Gap quickly apologized, even though it appears the T-shirt is not for sale in China. "China's efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted", the statement said.

The company said it respected China's "sovereignty" and would implement "rigorous reviews" to prevent a repeat of the incident. Last year, the company opened its largest China store in Shanghai.

The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration had sent a notice to 36 foreign airlines, including a number of USA carriers, on April 25, asking them to comply with Beijing's standards, according to the White House.

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"This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies", the White House said in a statement.

In January, Australia's Qantas Airways changed its website classification of Taiwan and Hong Kong from separate countries to Chinese territories, blaming its earlier approach on an "oversight".

Beijing claims a number of contested territories, but is particularly sensitive about Taiwan, a self-ruled island that it considers to be a province of China that will eventually be fully reunified. Mercedes-Benz also apologized in February for using a quote from the Dalai Lama in a post showcasing a sleek luxury model. The fashion retailer has also pulled the product off its shelves in China and destroyed the shirts, a statement on its Weibo read.

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