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Retailers looking to tap the expanding Chinese market have some research to do and some hard choices to make. So were other territories that have been subject to global dispute, including areas in the South China Sea and apparently an Indian-administered region of the Himalayas that China claims as "South Tibet".

"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.

"Stupid, rubbish company", said one comment on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter.

Gap quickly apologized, even though it appears the T-shirt is not for sale in China.

Self-ruled Taiwan is claimed by Beijing as Chinese territory, and has become one of China's most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint.

USA clothing retailer Gap apologised late Monday for selling T-shirts with an "incorrect" map of China, after it became the latest among foreign companies that China has taken offence with in relation to its territorial claims. Following a letter to several USA airlines demanding they change the way they refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau in promotional materials, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement calling the demand "Orwellian nonsense". "China's efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted".

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"This is Orwellian nonsense", a White House statement asserted earlier this month, "and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies".

In January, China forced US-based hotel chain Marriott International to shut down and "conduct a full content inspection" of its Chinese website and mobile app after a questionnaire that listed Taiwan and Tibet as individual countries led to complaints.

Delta Air Lines based in the US and Zara the European based clothing retailer were on the hot seat as well over issues of a similar nature on their e-commerce sites in China.

The Global Times newspaper said that "hundreds of Weibo users (were) protesting the company's act of disrespect to China's territorial sovereignty". Mercedes-Benz said sorry for quoting the Dalai Lama on social media.

It is available online on the Gap Factory U.S. website, as part of the "City T-shirt in Jersey" range.


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