Companies in Hot Water with China over Taiwan and Tibet

Marriott Draws Fire Over Geography Slip-Up

The Cyberspace Administration of China has blocked access to the Marriott hotel chain's website as punishment for geographical descriptions which challenge the People's Republic of China's sovereignty and territorial claims.

Authorities in Shanghai are investigating hotel giant Marriott after it triggered an online uproar with a customer questionnaire that listed Chinese-claimed regions such as Tibet and Hong Kong as separate countries.

Shanghai cyberspace administration Friday ordered two transnational enterprises Zara and Medtronic to remove all illegal content from their websites.

"Marriott International respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity", it said.

Meanwhile, global fashion brand Zara and medical equipment maker Medtronic were ordered by the internet regulator in Shanghai to update their websites after they too were found to have to referred to Taiwan as a country. "It was an inadvertent error with no business or political intention", the US airline said in a statement, after talks between its senior managers and officials at the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Delta and Zara, however, are not the only companies to be publicly scolded by China this week. The warnings signal that the country may deploy more sticks against foreign companies that can't risk losing business in the world's second-biggest economy.

Marriot was criticized as well after one of the social media accounts for the company liked a post that was made by an organization supporting Tibet being separatist.

"Boycott Marriott! Get out of China!" one Weibo user said.

But Marriott's inclusion of Tibet - a Chinese provincial-level autonomous region - was the straw that broke the camel's back for Zhongjusaodi and others.

City officials said in a notice dated late Wednesday that they were probing whether the gaffe in MarriottInternational's Mandarin-language questionnaire violated national cyber-security and advertising laws.

The former colonies of Hong Kong and Macau have been Beijing-ruled since the 1990s, but retain some autonomy from the mainland.

It also promised to work with Chinese authorities on their investigation.

"Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite", said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International in a statement.



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