Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

China targets websites mentioning Taiwan as a country

China targets websites mentioning Taiwan as a country

China temporarily shut down the Chinese website for Marriott International after the hotel chain listed Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in a customer survey.

China's aviation authority on Friday demanded an apology from Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, while another government agency took aim at Inditex-owned (ITX.MC) fashion brand Zara and medical device maker Medtronic Plc (MDT.N) for similar issues.

On Thursday, the Shanghai Cyberspace Administration urged the company to minimize the negative effect of having listed Tibet along with Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as countries in a survey sent to Chinese members of its rewards program.

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.

The airline has been instructed to "immediately rectify the situation" and "publicly apologise", CAAC said.

Medtronic issued an apology via social media, saying it had updated the website.

"The companies that come to China should respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by China's laws, and respect the feelings of the Chinese people".

In a customer questionnaire in Mandarin, Marriott asked members of the chain's customer rewards programme to list their country of residence, giving Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as possible options.

The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is one of two autonomous provinces in China, while Hong Kong and Macau are designated as special administrative regions. The administration said tourist accommodation is a core factor of a country's tourism industry.

Anger over Marriott's mistake snowballed after it was posted on the Communist Youth League's official account on Weibo, China's popular Twitter-like platform. China claims Taiwan - an independent, democratically-run island - as a renegade region to be reunified with the mainland in the not-too-distant future.

Shanghai authorities are probing whether the gaffe in the Marriott questionnaire violated national cyber-security and advertising laws.

"Marriott International respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China".

Last year, German carmaker Audi AG apologised for using a map that excluded Taiwan and parts of Tibet and the western Xinjiang region after it was heavily criticised on Chinese social media.

"Upon completion of a full investigation into how both incidents happened, we will be taking the necessary disciplinary action with respect to the individuals involved, which could include termination".

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