The Chinese website of Marriott International has been shut down and an employee sacked after two incidences of the hotel chain “disrespecting China’s sovereignty”.
The outcry began last week when Marriott customers noticed that a Chinese
language survey sent out by the hotel listed Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries.
The Chinese government considers self-ruling Taiwan as a breakaway Chinese province.
Tibet, meanwhile, is governed as an autonomous region, while Hong Kong and Macau are both technically part of China in their role of Special Administrative Regions.
Marriott International immediately apologized for the error, claiming the survey was outsourced to a company who they will now be breaking ties with.
As the news went viral among Chinese internet users, some sharp-eyed netizens also noticed that one of the Marriott’s Twitter accounts had liked a post by Friends of Tibet, a group supporting Tibetan independence.
This prompted the Chinese government to ban access to the Marriott’s Mandarin website and app, although international versions were still available to China internet users.
The hotel group’s Chief Executive Arne Sorenson said on Thursday that the company, "respects and supports Chinese sovereignty and its territorial integrity".
"We don't support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China,” he added.
"Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite."
The following day, the President and Managing Director of Asia-Pacific said the company has fired the employ who “wrongfully” liked the Friends of Tibet Twitter account.
On Saturday, Shanghai-based news portal Thepaper.cn took the war further by reporting that 24 airlines list Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as countries on their websites.
The same day, China’s Civil Aviation Administration called for all foreign airlines to check the accuracy of their websites and apps and amend any errors.
Meanwhile clothing store Zara and medical equipment supplier Medtronic were also discovered to have referred to Taiwan as a country on their websites.
Both have issued apologies after being contacted by Shanghai’s internet regulator.
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Keywords: Marriott China row Marriott China
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