Marriott hotel chief apologises to Beijing for calling Tibet a country

Marriott Draws Fire Over Geography Slip-Up

The Marriott International hotel chain has apologised and condemned "separatists" in China after the Beijing government shut down its website over an online questionnaire that suggested some Chinese regions were separate countries.

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

The company said it had corrected a survey sent to members of its loyalty program that labeled certain regions, including Tibet, as countries, and was conducting a full review of its Chinese website and apps. China annexed Tibet in 1950, although Beijing has long claimed the Himalayan region has been an indivisible part of China throughout history.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China said that it had summoned executives of Delta Air Lines after the company was found to have listed Taiwan and Tibet as independent countries on its website.

Both Zara and Medtronic had apologized and updated their websites by Friday evening. "It was an inadvertent error with no business or political intention", the USA airline said in a statement, after talks between its senior managers and officials at the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Shanghai authorities are probing whether the gaffe in Marriott International's Mandarin-language questionnaire violated national cyber-security and advertising laws.

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Today, the PRC considers Taiwan a province under its constitution. "We sincerely apologize for any actions that may have suggested otherwise". When they started filling in the information about the counties of their residence, they discovered that the options included Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet. Large global brands which can afford to do so might benefit from contracting local social media teams to manage the brand reputation in real-time.

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

Many internet users called for a boycott of the hotel chain, while Chinese booking platforms Dianping and Meituan withdrew Marriott properties from their systems.

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".

The apparent intensification of efforts to police how foreign businesses refer to Chinese-claimed territories - even if only in pull-down menus - underscores just how sensitive the issue of sovereignty has become in a country that is increasingly emboldened on the worldwide stage.

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