Marriott hotel chief apologises to Beijing for calling Tibet a country

Marriott Draws Fire Over Geography Slip-Up

Marriott Draws Fire Over Geography Slip-Up

China on Friday asked foreign companies investing in the country to "respect" its sovereignty and territorial integrity as it ordered a probe after a leading US-based hotel chain listed Tibet and Hong Kong as "countries". USA -based Delta, Spanish clothing chain Zara and US medical device maker Medtronic were targeted, the Liberty Times reported.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has urged US Delta Airlines to investigate and publicly apologize for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website.

China views with Tibet and Taiwan as integral to its territory and reacted furiously to the mistake.

Tibet has been controlled by China since the 1950s after the larger country invaded it, yet Taiwan has been ruling itself for about as long.

Marriott Draws Fire Over Geography Slip-Up

The website of Starwood, which is part of Marriott, was also taken offline in China.Chinese media is reporting that some travellers are cancelling Marriott reservations in response. The ruling Communist Party considers the self-ruled, democratic island a wayward province and refuses to renounce the threat of force to bring it into the fold.

The CAC met with Marriott representatives this week and ordered its website and app to be taken down for a week, as punishment.

Though Marriott made several posts on Weibo to apologize, it is not clear whether Marriott actively monitors mentions on Weibo or whether they might have been able to get ahead of the negative backlash in real-time.

Global companies operating in China should respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang as saying at a regular briefing. "Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite".

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Delta's apology was similarly groveling.

Tibet is home to a large Buddhist population and considered by Beijing to be an autonomous region within China, but its spiritual leader the 14th Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, fled to India after a popular uprising in 1959 and established a government-in-exile in Dharamsala.

Marriott's Chinese website now shows a message with an apology.

Some China-commentators have suggested that China plans to annex Taiwan within the next two years.

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At the same time, Beijing has accused Washington of meddling in its internal affairs after President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law in December that laid the foundation for mutual naval drills between Taiwan and the United States.

Also bolstering such an analysis is the Chinese military, which is now at its strongest ever.

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