Marriott apologizes for labeling China's territories as independent countries

Marriott apologizes for labeling China's territories as independent countries

Cyberspace regulators in China issued sharp criticism to Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) and other companies today for referring to Taiwan as an independent country on their websites, classifying it as "illegal content".

A day later, the cyberspace administration of Shanghai ordered Marriott to shut down its Chinese website and the mobile app for a week.

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

Several foreign companies in China have come under scrutiny for listing Taiwan and Hong Kong as countries - infuriating the Chinese government and patriotic netizens, to whom these areas are indispensable territories.

The Chinese government on Friday demanded public apologies from Spanish fast-fashion retailer Zara, U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines and Irish medical device company Medtronic, after they singled out Taiwan as a separate country on their websites.

Medtronic had also put "Republic of China (Taiwan)" on one of its websites, the office said in a WeChat post, giving both companies until 6 pm local time to apologize.

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China is stepping up its policing of worldwide companies such as Inditex SA-owned Zara and Delta Air Lines Inc. and demanding they respect the government's position on long-standing territorial disputes from Taiwan to Tibet.

The Chinese aviation agency vowed to require all foreign airlines operating routes to China to conduct a comprehensive and thorough investigation of their websites, apps and customer-related information.

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. Beijing says Taiwan, which is self-ruling, is a breakaway province, while Tibet is considered an autonomous region.

"Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite", said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International in a statement. The ruling Communist party has long insisted to the rest of the world that these regions, as well as Hong Kong, should always be described as being part of China.

The United States, along with many other countries, does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation and officially sticks to the "One China" position, but has kept informal relations with the island after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.

The hotel complied with requests from the authorities to delete the references from its online platforms, according to media reports.

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