US clothing retailer Gap has apologised for selling T-shirts bearing what it says was an “erroneous” map of China that did not include self-ruled Taiwan, in the latest example of corporate kowtowing to Beijing.
In a post on China’s Weibo microblogging platform late on Monday, the company said it had discovered that some T-shirts sold overseas “had an erroneous design of China’s map”.
“We are truly sorry about this unintentional mistake,” Gap said, promising to carry out “more rigorous reviews” in the future.
Gap took action after photos began circulating on Chinese social media of a T-shirt with a map that did not include Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing regards as Chinese territory.
The map also appeared to leave out southern Tibet and the disputed South China Sea, the state-owned Global Times said, adding that it drew hundreds of complaints on Weibo.
The company also said all the shirts in China have been recalled and destroyed.
It was unclear if the shirts in all of Gap’s markets worldwide would also be destroyed. Company representatives at Gap’s Shanghai office could not immediately be reached for comment.
The photos were taken at a Gap shop in Canada’s Niagara region, China’s state-owned Global Times said.
It said the Gap China headquarters in Shanghai told it: “The T-shirt in question has not been released in China.”
Gap is the latest of several companies that have apologised for perceived slights to China’s sovereignty.
Delta Air Lines, hotel operator Marriott, and fashion brand Zara are among businesses that have said sorry to China for referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet as countries on websites or promotional material.
Mercedes-Benz apologised for quoting the Dalai Lama on social media. The Tibetan spiritual leader is reviled by Beijing.
The US has started pushing back against Beijing, with the White House condemning China’s efforts to control how American airlines refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as “Orwellian nonsense”.