Upon the realization that one of our T-shirts sold in some overseas markets mistakenly failed to reflect the correct map of China, we urgently launched an internal investigation across the group and have made a decision to immediately pull back this T-shirt from all the concerned global markets.
The state-run Global Times newspaper said the map also omitted South Tibet and the South China Sea, and that it had prompted hundreds of people to complain on Gap's official account on China's Weibo microblogging website.
"The GAP Group respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity", the company added in its statement.
"[We] have chose to immediately pull back this T-shirt from all the concerned global markets", the company said. "We sincerely apologize for this unintentional error", the company shared in a statement, according to the Global Times.
Gap's apology comes as China has been increasing efforts to police language used to describe Chinese-claimed territories such as Taiwan.
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The shirt, which was sold in Canada, garnered attention after a picture was posted to the Chinese social media site Weibo.
The company vowed that it "strictly abides" by the laws and regulations set by Beijing, which has for decades considered self-ruled Taiwan a renegade Chinese province. We've learned that a Gap brand T-shirt sold in some overseas markets failed to reflect the correct map of China.
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters that China pressuring companies like Gap to change how they refer to Taiwan was "rather unfortunate in terms of cross-strait relations" and would push its residents "further and further away" rather than winning their "hearts and minds".
This move sparked a counter backlash by those online who argue that Taiwan is not a part of China and that the complaints over the shirt are unwarranted. In January, websites as well as apps for Marriott were blocked for more than week after the hospitality company listed Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet as individual countries in both emails as well as apps.
"If they treat the Taiwan people so unfriendly I think most of the people from Taiwan will choose other carriers instead of Air Canada", said Charles Chang, president of the Taiwan Chamber of Commerce in BC. China has been pressuring airlines around the world, including US carriers, to refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as part of China.