Marriott forced to issue apology after China error

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A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Friday called on foreign enterprises to respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity after Marriott International, a USA -based hotel corporation, listed Chinese territories including Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and Tibet as "countries" in a mail questionnaire.

Delta Air Lines Inc., the Zara apparel chain and Irish medical-equipment maker Medtronic Plc all came under fire.

Marriott International has issued an apology for listing Tibet and Taiwan, which are Chinese-claimed territories, as separate countries in a customer questionnaire.

Shanghai authorities are probing whether the gaffe in Marriott International's Mandarin-language questionnaire violated national cyber-security and advertising laws.

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

Tibet is officially an "autonomous region" but firmly under Chinese control.

Macau and Hong Kong were under Portuguese and British rule respectively until the 1990s and are now defined as Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China.

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Taiwan and the mainland split in 1949 after a civil war but the Communist Beijing government claims the island as its territory.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing on Friday that Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet were all part of China.

While Marriott apologised, public anger further escalated after the official Twitter account of Marriott Rewards liked a tweet from "Friends of Tibet", an India-based group that supports Tibetan independence and congratulated the hotel chain for listing Tibet as a country.

United States hotel chain Marriott's chief executive officer (CEO) has apologised for listing Tibet, among other parts of China, as an independent country in a questionnaire, and promised to take measures to prevent such incidents.

"Upon completion of a full investigation into how both incidents happened, we will be taking the necessary disciplinary action with respect to the individuals involved, which could include termination".

In a statement, Sorenson continued: "As a company, we take very seriously the privilege and opportunity we have to serve guests in countries around the world - and particularly in China, a market we have been in for over 30 years".

The aviation authority also said it would require all foreign airlines operating routes to China to conduct comprehensive investigations of their websites, apps and customer-related information and "strictly comply with China's laws and regulations to prevent a similar thing from happening". An executive who answered the phone at Zara's Shanghai office was not able to immediately comment.

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