Gap becomes the latest company to apologise to China

Chinese map on Gap t-shirt without Taiwan, South Tibet and islands in the South China Sea. Image: GAP website

DHARAMSALA, May 15: An American multinational clothing and accessories retailer, Gap Inc. has become the latest company to run afoul of politics and nationalist sentiment in China after it apologized to China for selling a T-shirt with an incomplete Chinese map.

Gap has apologized for selling a T-shirt showing what it called an incorrect map of China and further pledged ‘rigorous reviews’ to prevent it from happening again, reports the Guardian.

The apology came after an anonymous person from Canada posted the picture of the T-shirt on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social media platform and claimed that the Chinese territories, including south Tibet, the island of Taiwan and the South China Sea, were omitted from the map.

“Gap Inc. respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We’ve learned that a Gap brand T-shirt sold in some overseas markets failed to reflect the correct map of China. We sincerely apologize for this unintentional error,” Gap said in a statement it posted on its Weibo account on Monday evening.

The American multinational clothing and accessories retailer Gap said that it has pulled off the T-shirt from the Chinese market and destroyed it.

While China demands foreign companies operating in China to respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity and claims Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau and South China Sea as its territory since ancient times, it occupied Tibet in 1959 and considers Taiwan a renegade province and has never ruled out the use of force to bring it under its control. Hong Kong and Macau, both former colonies, have returned to Chinese rule.

Before Gap, more multinational companies operating in China have run afoul of politics and nationalist sentiment in China and issued apologies. Delta Air Lines, medical device-maker Medtronic and fashion brand Zara have all apologised and removed Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau from its list of countries from their mobile apps and websites fearing strong rebuttal from the Chinese communist government.

The German auto giant Daimler has apologised repeatedly to China for its ‘Monday Motivation’ post on Instagram quoting the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Marriott International, an American multinational hospitality company had its Chinese website suspended by the Chinese regulator after it listed Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in its questionnaire survey for its elite members earlier in January.

Marriott  later issued an apology on its Sina Weibo account, a Chinese micro-blogging platform and suspended the questionnaire survey.

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