US clothing brand Gap has apologised for selling T-shirts which it said showed an “incorrect map” of China.
The apology came after one person posted pictures of the T-shirt on Chinese social media network Weibo saying that Chinese-claimed territories, including “Southern Tibet” — a huge swathe of territory it claims in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, the island of Taiwan and the South China Sea were not shown on it, the BBC reported.
The post on Monday, which said that the T-shirt was being sold in Canada, drew the ire of Chinese netizens. In a statement, Gap said it “sincerely apologised for this unintentional error” and had pulled the T-shirts from the Chinese market and destroyed them.
“Gap Inc. respects China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We’ve learned that a Gap brand T-shirt sold in some overseas markets failed to reflect the correct map of China in the design,” the company said.
The company didn’t say whether the product would be withdrawn from sale in other markets.
Several other companies had issued similar apologies earlier this year after information on their websites appeared to conflict with China’s territorial claims.
In January, Marriott International apologised to China after sending a letter to rewards club members that listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as options on a question asking customers their countries of residence.
Fashion brand Zara and Delta Air Lines drew Beijing’s ire and apologised for listing Taiwan and/or Tibet as countries on drop-down menus on their websites.
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In 2017, German carmaker Audi was in hot water for omitting Taiwan and parts of western China on a map used at their annual meeting, while Mercedes-Benz apologised in February for quoting the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, on Instagram.
The White House had earlier described China’s claims as “Orwellian nonsense” and sharply criticised Beijing for trying to impose its “political correctness on American companies and their citizens”. (IANS)