We've learned that a Gap brand T-shirt sold in some overseas markets failed to reflect the correct map of China. The shirt sparked outrage after being dubbed "incomplete" for not including South Tibet, the island of Taiwan, and the South China Sea, all Chinese-claimed territories.
Taiwan was left off the map of China depicted on the T-shirt.
The U.S. also formally acknowledges China's claim on the island, under the One China policy that established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979 - though the U.S. continues to maintain a significant unofficial relationship with Taiwan. The photo of the Gap tee was snapped inside a store in Canada, and The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, tweeted a photo with the "correct" version of the map.
The White House in early May called Chinese demands, that over 30 global airlines including a few in the US, remove from their websites any data that might suggest that Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were not part of China, as being Orwellian nonsense.
Several other large Western brands apologized for errors related to territorial issues in China.
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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. "China's internal Internet repression is world-famous".
Earlier this month, the United States, embroiled in a trade dispute with China, dismissed the country's efforts as a way to "impose its political views on American citizens and private companies".
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. Last year, 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 apologized in February for quoting the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, on Instagram.
"The reason some Chinese netizens believe that it was intentional is because all of the other T-shirts in the "City T-Shirt in Jersey" range: San Francisco, Paris, Japan, and Canada are decorated with national flags rather than a fake map", the paper added.