Gap sorry for selling T-shirt with 'incorrect' map of China

US chain apologises for design that did not include Tibet or Taiwan, two territories that China claims as its own

US retailer Gap has apologised for selling a T-shirt showing what it called an incorrect map of China, adding it would implement “rigorous reviews” to prevent it happening again.

The apology came after a person posted pictures of the T-shirt on Chinese social media network Weibo saying that Chinese-claimed territories, including south Tibet, the island of Taiwan and the South China Sea were omitted. The user said the photo of the T-shirt was taken at an outlet store in Canada.

“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 apologise for this unintentional error,” it said in a statement posted on its Weibo account on Monday evening.

It added that the products had been pulled from the Chinese market and destroyed.

Gap’s apology comes as China has been increasing efforts to police language used to describe Chinese-claimed territories such as Taiwan. Other US companies that have issued apologies for similar incidents include Delta Air Lines and Marriott International.

This month, the White House sharply criticised China’s efforts to force foreign airlines to change how they described Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau on their websites as “Orwellian nonsense”.

Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial issue. Beijing considers the self-ruled, democratic island a wayward province. However, the island has been governed separately since 1949 and maintains formal diplomatic relations with a handful of countries.

Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950 to bring the region under Beijing’s control.

China issued new passports in 2012 that carried a map laying claim to several disputed islands and territories, infuriating countries across Asia. Vietnam, the Philippines, India and Taiwan all protested against the move.

Reuters contributed to this report

Guardian staff and agencies

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