It’s been more than a week since Shanghai cyberspace authorities closed down Marriott International’s website in China. The global hotel group suffered the consequences for listing Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries in their online customer survey.
Since then, China’s tourism authorities have urged other companies to review their websites, apps, and marketing materials, as a move to strengthen the country’s efforts on correcting how foreign businesses refer to these parts of China.
According to the China Nationalism Tourism Administration, no activities that challenge China’s legal red lines would be permitted.
This is a warning to all international companies that don’t comply with the country’s political agenda. China is the world’s second-largest economy and foreign entities must observe their rules.
Aside from Marriott International, Spanish retailer Zara, Irish medical device company Medtronic, and American carrier Delta Airlines were also called out for listing some its regions inaccurately. Marriott was ordered to shut down its website and app, while others were asked to rectify the “illegal content” on their sites and issue a public apology.
Medtronic immediately responded with a statement saying that “the company completely understands the stance of the Chinese government on relevant sovereignty issues”. The company apologized for the misunderstanding and vowed to pay more attention.
Furthermore, Zara issued a statement: “Please accept our sincere apologies. We have rectified this specific content immediately and we are now conducting a comprehensive self-inspection.”
Delta Airlines also said: “We apologize deeply for hurting the feelings of Chinese people.”
The Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) also released an order for all foreign airlines with operations in China to check their online data.
As a result of this stricter mandate, all companies should be more careful about their presentation of China. They must conduct a comprehensive investigation of their websites, apps, and customer-related information.