The clothing retailer, Gap, has apologised to the Chinese government for selling t-shirts featuring a map of China, minus South Tibet, Taiwan, and the South China Sea.
According to Gap, the t-shirts were distributed in “some overseas markets”, and “mistakenly failed to reflect the correct map of China”.
They stated: “Gap Inc. respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.”
The error was noticed by a few discerning shoppers in Canada and posted online. The shirts have since been recalled and destroyed.
Of course, such an apology doesn’t come without its controversy. Taiwan has been critical of Gap for siding with the Chinese government and is not the first international company to come under fire.
Air Canada, Zara, Marriott, Qantas, and Delta Air Lines have all issued an apology to China in recent months and have been accused by Taiwan for “buck[ling] under the pressure”.
These apologies came after Chinese authorities reached out to various corporations noting that their websites appeared to list Taiwan as its own country.
China adamantly lays claim to Taiwan as an important part of their territory, while Taiwan’s government, a pro-independence party, denies that this is the case.
This is a long-contested and sensitive issue since China and Taiwan separated in 1949 after a civil war which ended with a communist victory.
The Chinese government’s active involvement in seeking out and confronting large corporations has been condemned by some.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement:
“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”.
However, the companies in question don’t appear to share the sentiments and Gap certainly did all they could to appease Chinese concerns.
The People’s Daily, the communist’s official newspaper, tweeted a photo of the original t-shirt beside the correct Chinese map, according to Beijing, with the following statement:
American clothing retailer @Gap on Monday apologized for printing incomplete Chinese map on T-shirts for sales outside #China, said the brand respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity pic.twitter.com/uHJoLnpmr6
— People's Daily,China (@PDChina) May 14, 2018