March 20, 2018

China shuts Mariott website over Tibet mistake

13 January 2018, 03:32 | Taylor George

Marriott forced to issue apology after China error

Marriott Draws Fire Over Geography Slip-Up

USA -based Delta, Spanish clothing chain Zara and US medical device maker Medtronic were targeted, the Liberty Times reported.

Delta Airlines and the Marriott hotel chain have been issued with a "please explain" by China over their referring to Tibet and Taiwan as countries.

Delta had categorized both Taiwan and Tibet as separate countries on its website.

Chinese news websites carried screenshots of what they said were the websites of other prominent foreign brands that included Taiwan on lists of countries before being abruptly changed this week. China has punished Hollywood stars Richard Gere and Brad Pitt for appearing in films which may have promoted the notion of a separate Tibet. 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.

The CAC met with Marriott representatives this week and ordered its website and app to be taken down for a week, as punishment.

Shanghai authorities said in November they had fined a local advertising agency one million yuan ($150,000) over a Chinese map that appeared in an advertisement it produced, saying the map was inaccurate and "damaged the country's dignity".

Though Marriott made several posts on Weibo to apologize, it is not clear whether Marriott actively monitors mentions on Weibo or whether they might have been able to get ahead of the negative backlash in real-time. A Marriott account was then used to "liked" the Friends of Tibet comment.

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Marriott has said it was "deeply sorry" and wished to "reiterate our usual stand in respecting China's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

In a statement, Sorenson continued: "As a company, we take very seriously the privilege and opportunity we have to serve guests in countries around the world - and particularly in China, a market we have been in for over 30 years".

Delta's apology was similarly groveling.

US hotel chain Marriott's chief executive officer (CEO) apologized Thursday for listing Tibet, among other parts of China, as an independent country in a mail questionnaire, and promised to take measures to prevent such incidents. Since her inauguration, Chinese visits to Taiwan have fallen significantly and more nations have severed diplomatic ties with the government in Taipei, in favor of Beijing.

On Thursday, the cyberspace administration of Shanghai further ordered Marriott to shut down its Chinese website and Chinese APP for a week from 6 p.m. and conduct a thorough inspection on all the content and publish the investigation result in a timely fashion.

Also bolstering such an analysis is the Chinese military, which is now at its strongest ever.

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