Some would forgive a clothier for a lack of diplomacy in geopolitical affairs.
China, however, has an ax to grind generally—and now specifically because of an image on a T-shirt.
China has long held disputes with the West over territories, such as Taiwan, that it claims to own but which Western governments do not recognize as Chinese possessions or protectorates. The depiction of China on the shirt in question omits those disputed areas.
Retailers looking to tap the expanding Chinese market have some research to do and some hard choices to make.
Gap is not the first international brand to bruise China’s long fingers and tender toes, but it has apologized just the same.
The apology was triggered by complaints from consumers reacting to pictures of a Gap-branded T-shirt posted on Chinese social media network Weibo. Users pointed out that a map printed on the shirt omitted territories claimed by China, including parts of southern Tibet, Taiwan and the South China Sea.