Gap Has Apologized to China for a T-Shirt Featuring an ‘Incomplete’ Map. What Was It Missing?

May 15, 2018, 11:10 AM UTC
Gap apologized for not adhering to the 'One China' policy
Shoppers browse through merchandise on offer at Gap Inc.'s flagship store in Shanghai, China, on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010. Gap Inc., the San-Francisco based operator of more than 3,000 clothing shops, opened its first store in China and began online sales to tap the country's more than 400 million Internet users. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Qilai Shen—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gap has apologized to China after an image of a t-shirt on sale in Canada went viral.

The offending shirt portrayed a map of China that didn’t adhere to Beijing’s territorial claims. Specifically, Taiwan, “Southern Tibet,” and the South China Sea were omitted from the map. The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, tweeted a picture of the map on Gap’s shirt next to the one that is accurate according to Beijing:

While Taiwan is self-governed, only a minority of countries recognize its sovereignty as a nation independent of China. The area China calls Southern Tibet is a disputed region on the country’s border with India, where China claims about 90,000 square kilometres in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. In the South China Sea, China is engaged in a number of disputes over islands, coral reefs, and lagoons in what is a major commercial thoroughfare that is potentially rich in resources.

In a statement the company said, “Gap Inc. respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. 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 decided to immediately pull back this T-shirt from all the concerned global markets. The related products were pulled off the shelves in the Chinese market and destroyed earlier.” The company apologized for the error and reaffirmed its adherence to Chinese rules and laws.

This year, China has cracked down on international companies to reinforce the “One China” policy. Delta Air Lines, Marriott, Zara, and Mercedes-Benz are among the other companies that have apologized after similar slip-ups. Following a letter to several U.S. airlines demanding they change the way they refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau in promotional materials, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement calling the demand “Orwellian nonsense.”

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