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(HONG KONG) — The U.S. clothing retailer Gap has apologized for selling T-shirts with what it says was an “erroneous” map of China that didn’t include self-ruled Taiwan, in the latest example of corporate kowtowing to Beijing.
In a posting late Monday on China’s Weibo microblogging platform , the company said it 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 didn’t 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 be reached immediately for comment.
The photos were taken at a Gap shop in Canada’s Niagara region, China’s state-owned Global Times said. It said that 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 apologized for perceived slights to China’s sovereignty.
Delta Air Lines, hotel operator Marriott, fashion brand Zara are among businesses that have apologized to China for referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet as countries on websites or promotional material. Mercedes-Benz said sorry for quoting the Dalai Lama on social media. The Tibetan spiritual leader is reviled by Beijing.
The U.S. has started pushing back against Beijing, with the White House condemning China’s efforts to control how U.S. airlines refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as “Orwellian nonsense.”