China chides more multinational enterprises over labelling of Taiwan

Shanghai authorities said in November they had fined a local advertising agency one million yuan ($150,000) over a Chinese map that appeared in an advertisement it produced, saying the map was inaccurate and "damaged the country's dignity".

The move comes after Marriott International Inc. was reported to have listed Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet as individual countries in an email to members, as well as on its app's registration page.

Gu Jianguang, director of the Public Policy Research Institute at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said foreign firms would be wise to heed such comments.

Meanwhile, global fashion brand Zara and medical equipment maker Medtronic were ordered by the internet regulator in Shanghai to update their websites after they too were found to have to referred to Taiwan as a country.

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.

Taiwan was mentioned on Chinese-language lists headed "countries" on the respective companies' websites.

"We don't support separatist groups that subvert the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China", the company said in a statement.

"Nothing could be further from the truth".

Marriott is also investigating the "careless "like" by one of its official social media accounts of a pro-Tibet tweet that suggested its support for the position.

Marriott said it would take disciplinary action, which could involve firing the people involved.

"We are also working closely and co-operating with the relevant government authorities in China".

Moreover, the statement said that the action against Marriott should be regarded as a warning to other worldwide companies: "Hotel companies must immediately review all information on their corporate websites and apps, and strictly abide by Chinese laws and regulations to firmly stop such incidents from happening again", it read. "You first earned Chinese people's money, and then hurt our feelings".

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

The original post, by Weibo user Zhongjusaodi, had called the survey "disgusting" and questioned the intelligence of Marriott's Greater China employees. "This is an objective fact and also the consensus of the worldwide community", he said.

China also reportedly shut down Marriott's mobile app, but the BBC said it was back working after the apology was issued.


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