Marriott International apologizes for online gaffe, website in China temporarily closed

Marriott International apologizes for online gaffe, website in China temporarily closed

Beijing, China – The Shanghai Cyberspace Administration closes down Marriot International Inc.’s website in China for a week since January 11, for listing Chinese-claimed regions as separate countries in an online customer survey. 

In a Mandarin-language questionnaire sent out to customers a few days ago, Marriott had listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries.

The Republic of China claims sovereignty over these said territories, although Taiwan is considered as a self-ruled breakaway territory and Tibet is an autonomous region.

Marriott was told to take down all relevant content and conduct a thorough check on its website to prevent anything similar, and address the public’s concern in a timely fashion to eliminate a negative impact.

The Shanghai Cyberspace Administration also said in a statement that it was shutting down Marriott’s mobile app – a move to disrupt the company’s online bookings.

The US-based hotel conglomerate issued an apology yesterday for the online blunder, which drew accusations of disrespecting the sovereignty of China. It’s reported in Chinese media that some travellers are cancelling Marriott reservations in response to the issue.

“Marriott International respects Chinese sovereignty and its territorial integrity…We sincerely apologise for any actions that led to a misunderstanding on the aforementioned stance,” the company said in a statement on its official Weibo account.

The Huangpu District Market Supervision Bureau of Shanghai is also launching an investigation into Marriott, due to suspicion of violating China’s cybersecurity law and advertisement law.

Christian Tolentino
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Christian Tolentino
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