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China demands public apology from Delta for listing Taiwan, Tibet as countries

China demands public apology from Delta for listing Taiwan, Tibet as countries

More foreign companies came into Beijing's crosshairs Friday for including regions such as Tibet and Taiwan in a list of independent countries on their websites, a day after authorities ordered hotel giant Marriott International Inc.to temporarily shut its online operations in China for a similar offense.

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.

Zara added a three-sentence statement to its website expressing "sincere apologies" and said it would conduct a "self-examination".

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

In a customer questionnaire in Mandarin, Marriott asked members of the chain's customer rewards program to list their country of residence, giving Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as possible options. Tibet is officially known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The choices included Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, all of which are regarded by the Beijing government as being part of China.

The apparent intensification of efforts to police how foreign businesses refer to Chinese-claimed territories - even if only in pull-down menus - underscores just how sensitive the issue of sovereignty has become in a China that is increasingly emboldened on the worldwide stage.

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Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and Tibet are all parts of China, which is not only a basic fact, but also the consensus of the worldwide community, spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily press briefing.

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.

China claims indisputable sovereignty over all four of the territories and bristles at any suggestion of independence. "Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite", the company's President and CEO Arne Sorenson said in the statement on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

"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".

Delta was not immediately able to comment outside US office hours.

We will learn from this experience, make changes to ensure errors like this don't happen again, and continue to focus on making sure our Chinese guests feel respected and have wonderful experiences as we have the privilege of serving them in our hotels in China and around the globe.