In a rare statement issued by the White House May 5, the US government slammed China's demand as "Orwellian nonsense" and said it deemed the request "Chinese political correctness".
"We sincerely apologize for this unintentional error", said the company, which issued the statement through its public relations firm APCO after making a similar apology late Monday on its Weibo account.
The Chinese government in Beijing considers self-governed Taiwan to be an integral part of its territory and comes down hard on any suggestions to the contrary. Though Taiwan is in fact a sovereign, independent country, the regime in Beijing insists that Taiwan is a part of China and has in recent months been turning up the heat on an intimidation campaign to coerce Western companies and governments to conform to their vision of "one China".
Gap responded to the criticism on Weibo by announcing it had pulled the T-shirts from the Chinese market and destroyed them.
US clothing retailer Gap has apologized to China over a T-shirt with a map showing the mainland but omitting Taiwan, becoming the latest foreign firm to run afoul of Beijing's policy on the self-ruling island. "China's efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted", the statement said. "We're now conducting an internal inspection".
US hotel chain Marriott, Spanish clothing giant Zara and a slew of airlines have faced China's wrath for not classifying Taiwan as part of China on their websites. Both companies subsequently apologized.
The company also said all the shirts in China have been recalled and destroyed.
Earlier this month, the White House described as "Orwellian nonsense" Chinese demands that more than 30 global airlines, including some U.S. carriers, alter their websites to remove any information that could suggest that Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau are not part of China.