On Tuesday, clothing retailer Gap "sincerely" apologized to China for a T-shirt that showed a map of China that did not include Taiwan, the self-ruled island China considers part of its territory, or Tibet and disputed parts of the South China Sea. A photo of the shirt, apparently taken at a Gap store in eastern Canada, prompted outrage on China's Weibo microblogging platform, China's state-owned Global Times reports. Gap said it had already pulled the shirts off shelves in China and destroyed them.
"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," Gap said in a statement. It promised "more rigorous reviews" to prevent future incidents of this type and assured Beijing that Gap respects China's "sovereignty and territorial integrity." China's Foreign Ministry responded by saying it "will follow carefully their actions and remarks later on." Joseph Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister, said China beating up on companies like Gap over Taiwan is "rather unfortunate in terms of cross-strait relations."
Gap joins Delta Air Lines, Marriott, Zara, and other brands that have recently apologized to China for running afoul of their territorial precepts, The Associated Press notes. Not coincidentally, China is home to 1.3 billion people and a growing consumer class.