January 11, 2018 / 8:38 AM / a year ago

Marriott International apologises for questionnaire gaffe in China

BEIJING, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Marriott International apologized on Thursday over a questionnaire sent to customers that listed Chinese-claimed regions such as Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries, which provoked an outcry on social media and an investigation by the Shanghai government.

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

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

Eagle-eyed netizens soon pointed out the error and took to Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, asking Marriott to make adjustment, with many accusing the American company of disrespecting Chinese sovereignty, and some calling for a boycott.

China claims sovereignty over all four of territories, though Taiwan is self-ruled and has democratic elections.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Shanghai government said it had asked Marriott to “take down all relevant content, conduct a thorough check on all contents it posted on its website and online application to prevent anything similar, and address the public’s concern in a timely fashion to eliminate a negative impact.”

It also said Shanghai’s Huangpu district market supervision bureau was launching an investigation into Marriott, as it was suspected of violating China’s cyber security law and advertisement law.

Last year, South Korean companies were hit heavily by Chinese economic retaliation over Seoul’s deployment of a US missile shield system. (Reporting by Pei Li and Brenda Goh; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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