Retailer Gap apologises for T-shirts with 'incorrect' map of China

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15 May, 2018

I can't imagine that, as a graphic designer for U.S. clothing giant Gap, you would have ever anticipated that part of your job would require officially apologising to the nation of China thanks to an worldwide upset you caused with one of your shitty shirt designs.

Gap Inc. issued an apology Tuesday after upsetting internet users in China for printing a map of their country on one of its T-shirts that didn't include Taiwan.

The shirts have since been removed from stores in China.

Retailers looking to tap the expanding Chinese market have some research to do and some hard choices to make. "ORCRP006320-topic.html" class="local_link" >Gap is the latest company to apologize to China for failing to reflect Beijing's territorial claims - on a map shown on a T-shirt for sale in North America. According to the Washington Post, it also drew ire for not correctly demarcating China's claimed territory in the South China Sea.

In a statement the company said, "Gap Inc. respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China".

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Keeping track of China's territorial claims can be tricky, especially for brands in the USA, where the federal government disagrees with China over its purported reach.

In the statement sent to the Global Times, Gap said the T-shirt has been pulled off shelves in the Chinese market and destroyed. The shirt could not be found on Gap websites and it wasn't clear whether it was still being sold in shops in some countries. All three companies have since apologized.

Several other large Western brands apologized for errors related to territorial issues in China.

In January, Chinese authorities blocked Marriott's websites and apps for nearly a week after the company listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries in emails and applications. Marriott issued an apology, saying it respects and supports China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As the New York Times points out, companies like Delta Air Lines, Marriott, and Zara have also been called out for failing to recognized Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet as sovereign to China, instead referring to them as separate countries. Both companies subsequently apologized.

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