Fri, Jan 12, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Shanghai probes Marriott hotels over geography on customer questionnaire


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

City officials on Wednesday said in a notice that they were probing whether the gaffe in Marriott’s Mandarin-language questionnaire violated national cybersecurity and advertising laws.

Marriott has issued an apology and amended the online questionnaire, which asked members of the chain’s customer rewards program to list their country of residence, giving Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau as possible options.

China claims indisputable sovereignty over all four of the territories and bristles at any suggestion of independence.

Anger over Marriott’s mistake snowballed after it was posted on the Chinese Communist Youth League’s official account on Weibo.

Thousands of outraged comments and reposts ensued, many urging a Marriott boycott.

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

Another said that while Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong are sometimes listed separately, “it is the first time to list Tibet as such. This is too much.”

Tibet is officially an “autonomous region,” but firmly under Chinese control.

Hong Kong and Macau became British and Portuguese territories, respectively, in the age of European colonialism, but are now “special administrative regions” under China.

Shanghai authorities said they met with Marriott’s management earlier this week to demand that the offending materials be corrected and that the company do its best to rectify the “bad influence” from the affair.

Marriott has said it was “deeply sorry” and wished to “reiterate our usual stand in respecting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Marriott said it had fixed the errors and would “actively cooperate” with the government investigation.

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