Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

China shuts Marriott website for listing Tibet, Hong Kong as separate countries

China shuts Marriott website for listing Tibet, Hong Kong as separate countries

The hotel chain Marriott was ordered this week to shut down its mainland China website and app for a week after it sent out a customer survey that included Taiwan, Tibet and the Chinese territory of Hong Kong in a list of countries.

Alongside Marriott, the Spanish clothing giant Zara, Delta Air Lines and Medtronic - a medical device company - were all called out by Chinese authorities for "illegal" classification of regions that Beijing claims under its authority.

Shanghai authorities said they met with Marriott's management earlier this week to demand that the offending materials be corrected and that the company do its best to rectify the "bad influence" from the affair. "We recognise the severity of the situation and sincerely apologise", the message said, in a more solemn tone than previous ones offered on Chinese media that were slammed as insincere.

We will learn from this experience, make changes to ensure errors like this don't happen again, and continue to focus on making sure our Chinese guests feel respected and have wonderful experiences as we have the privilege of serving them in our hotels in China and around the globe. It asked to respondents to select their country of residence, and gave Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as options alongside China.

Hong Kong and Macau are former European colonies that are now part of China but run largely autonomously.

Tibet is officially an "autonomous region" but firmly under Chinese control.

China claims sovereignty over all four of territories, though Taiwan is self-ruled and has democratic elections.

We will absolutely not support any separatist organization that will undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"I think this is the basic principle for foreign countries to conduct operations and investment in other countries", Lu said.

While Marriott apologised, public anger further escalated after the official Twitter account of Marriott Rewards liked a tweet from "Friends of Tibet", an India-based group that supports Tibetan independence and congratulated the hotel chain for listing Tibet as a country.

Marriott International has already been investigated by local authorities, and Arne Sorenson, president and chief executive officer of Marriott International, Inc, apologized Thursday for the incident.

"Marriott International respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

"We will be taking the necessary disciplinary action with respect to the individuals involved, which could include termination, changing our approval and review procedures for online content, reviewing our customer feedback channels, and enhancing training to ensure these situations don't happen again".

Like this: