TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — American clothing retailer The Gap apologized on Monday for printing T-shirts with a map of China which did not include Taiwan, after Chinese netizens complained on Weibo.
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. Though Taiwan is in fact a sovereign, independent country, the regime in Beijing insists that Taiwan is a part of China and has in recent months been turning up the heat on an intimidation campaign to coerce Western companies and governments to conform to their vision of “one China.”
Text in Chinese reads “Gap sales in China will certainly die. Remember to manage public relations well.” (Image from Weibo user 汤粉儿)
Fearing retaliation from Beijing, by 7 p.m. that same day The Gap issued a formal apology on its Weibo page saying:
“The Gap Group respects China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We were told that the design of a map of China for Gap T-shirts in some overseas markets had an error. We are extremely sorry for this unintentional mistake.
As a responsible company, it strictly abides by Chinese laws and regulations. We are grateful to customers, the media, and government regulators for their attention and support. In the future, we will work on stricter reviews to prevent similar mistakes from happening again.”
Official apology posted on Gap Weibo page.
The Gap also announced in an email that it had removed all of the offending products and had them destroyed, according to CBS News. The T-shirts themselves were not actually sold in China, said the Gap headquarters in Shanghai to the Global Times.
Weibo user circles areas of China she perceives as being excluded. (Image from Weibo user 汤粉儿)
The Gap’s website originally listed the T-shirts as being available in Canada, Japan, Paris, China, San Francisco and New York. Chinese netizens were also angered that the maps appeared to exclude southern Tibet and did not include territory in the South China Sea which China has recently been asserting claims on.
T-shirt with map of China. (Image from The Gap website)