China shuts down Marriott website for listing Tibet as separate country

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

According to the Shanghai Cyberspace Administration, the Marriott incident "hurt the feelings of Chinese people".

The Chinese aviation agency vowed to require all foreign airlines operating routes to China to conduct a comprehensive and thorough investigation of their websites, apps and customer-related information.

"As disgruntled consumers express their anger towards the brands, it is a big lesson for foreign businesses to be politically correct when doing businesses in China", he said.

Caixin Global reports that Marriott's including Tibet in the drop-down list was particularly offensive to Weibo commenters as other brands from overseas have previously also listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as "countries" in an English-language context. "Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite", the company's president and CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement.

According to reports from local media and internet users, Spanish clothes company Zara's website (zara.cn) and US medical technology firm Medtronic's website (medtronic.com) had categorized Chinese territories as countries.

Despite a series of apologies and a freaky clarification that it does not support "separatism" Marriott has become the latest global company to be punished by Beijing for apparently disrespecting China's sovereignty. As soon as we became aware of the issue with the survey, we worked to take it down and make the necessary corrections.

It has been reported that Chinese private sector online firms including Meituan and Dianping have removed Marriott from their hotel booking services. It operates well over 100 locations in the Greater China region.

Both Macau and Hong Kong are special administrative regions of China, said Beijing. We also quickly un-'liked' the tweet and posted a statement of apology on Twitter.

Zara and Medtronic are not the only two companies that have been chastised for disrespecting China's territorial sovereignty.

"The new cybersecurity law also said that you can't do anything on the Internet to harm the sovereignty of the country", said Yin.

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