Why this t-shirt has sparked outrage

US clothing retailer Gap has apologised for selling T-shirts with a map of China that didn’t include Taiwan.

The company took action after photos began circulating on Chinese social media of a T-shirt showing a map that didn’t include Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing regards as Chinese territory.

The map also appeared to leave out southern Tibet and the disputed South China Sea, the state-owned Global Times said, adding that it drew hundreds of complaints on China’s Weibo microblogging platform.

A picture of the T-shirt that was reportedly taken at a Gap outlet in Canada, which appears to miss self-ruled Taiwan, and Tibet from its design of a map of China. Source: Weibo

“We sincerely apologise for this unintentional error,” the company said in a statement.

“Upon the realisation 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 decided to immediately pull back this T-shirt from all the concerned global markets.”

The retailer added that the shirts had already been pulled from Chinese shelves and destroyed.

The photos were taken at a Gap shop in Canada’s Niagara region, Global Times said.

Geographically, Tibet appears slightly to the left of the T-shirt’s map of China, with Taiwan missing to the right. Source: Google Maps

The shirt could no longer be found on Gap websites and it wasn’t clear whether it was still being sold in shops in some countries.

Gap promised to carry out “more rigorous reviews” to prevent similar incidents and said it respected China’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” and strictly followed the country’s laws and rules.

The shirt could no longer be found on Gap websites and it wasn’t clear whether it was still being sold in shops in some countries. Source: Gap

China noted Gap’s apology and “will follow carefully their actions and remarks later on,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily briefing in Beijing.

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.”