Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Marriott apologises to China over Tibet and Taiwan error

Marriott apologises to China over Tibet and Taiwan error

Though Marriott apologized, reassuring Chinese authorities that the company doesn't "support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China", the consequences were severe: On Thursday, the Shanghai government ordered Marriott to close down its Chinese website and app for a week.

The cyberspace administration and market supervision bureau of Huangpu District said late Wednesday that they had conducted interviews with the hotel company's representatives in China and ordered all related content to be removed from its website and mobile app.

"China welcomes foreign companies to invest and operate in China but they in the meanwhile should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China, respect our laws and regulations, as well as the feelings of the Chinese people", Lu said.

The survey sent to customers asked in which country they lived and gave options including Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Marriott International has run afoul of the Chinese government and its website has been shut down in China for a week. On the same day, China's Civil Aviation Administration summoned executives of Delta as the carrier lists Taiwan and Tibet, located in western China, as nations on its website.

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Delta issued a public apology on Friday, saying it had made a "grave mistake". Hong Kong and Macau are both special administrative regions of China. Instead, Global Times, a tabloid sponsored by the ruling Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, praised the Chinese airline for its quick response on Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter. "We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize", the message said, in a more solemn tone than previous ones offered on Chinese media that were slammed as insincere.

According to China's aviation authority, it would require all worldwide airlines operating in China, to check up their websites, apps and customer-related information so that they "strictly comply with China's laws and regulations to prevent a similar thing from happening". The South China Morning Post mentions that a local advertising agency was fined $153,000 for including a Chinese map in an advertisement which was judged to be inaccurate and undignified though "authorities did not specify what was wrong with the map". "Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite", said President and CEO Arne Sorenson.

The Chinese government frequently erupts with outrage at any perceived contradiction to its territorial claims, claiming such statements upset all of China's 1.4 billion citizens.

Chinese regulators rebuked fashion brand Zara, Delta Air Lines and medical device maker Medtronic on Friday for calling Taiwan a country on their websites in a fresh show of Beijing's acute sensitivity about the self-ruled island.

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