Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Gap apologizes for China map T-shirt after backlash

Gap has pulled the T-shirts and said it respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity Gap has pulled the T-shirts and said it respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity
Jodi Jackson | 15 May, 2018, 22:41

Gap has apologized to China after an image of a t-shirt on sale in Canada went viral. It was unclear if the shirts in all of Gap's markets worldwide would also be destroyed.

The company, through a prepared statement posted on Weibo, said that it respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of China and learned that a T-shirt in its Gap brand sold in some markets overseas did not reflect a map of China that was correct in design.

The move followed after a netizen had posted pictures of the shirt on Chinese social media platform Weibo, which saw Chinese territories such as south Tibet, Taiwan and the South China Sea being omitted from the map.

Marriott and Gap aren't alone in causing offence to China, Delta Air Lines recently issued a public apology for what it described as a "grave mistake" after listing Taiwan and Tibet as independent countries on its website.

In a tweet, People's Daily showed the offending T-shirt alongside what it considers to be the correct map.

The name change came in the wake of letters sent by China's Civil Aviation Administration in late April, pressuring 36 American and worldwide airlines to remove references to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as countries on their websites and marketing materials.

China has engaged in a campaign this year to force global companies to toe the line when it comes to Taiwan and its "One China" policy.

"This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies", the White House said in a statement.

In January,

The Global Times newspaper said that "hundreds of Weibo users (were) protesting the company's act of disrespect to China's territorial sovereignty". But Gap's China headquarters in Shanghai said the T-shirt had not been released in China.

U.S. airline Delta (DAL) and European clothing retailer Zara also came under fire over similar issues on their websites 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.

It is available online on the Gap Factory U.S. website, as part of the "City T-shirt in Jersey" range.

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