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China has temporarily suspended the use of Marriott’s website and mobile app in the country on Thursday after the chain was accused of disrespecting Chinese sovereignty. Both the website and app are set to remain inaccessible for one week.
What did Marriott do to elicit such a response from China? According to Reuters, Marriott listed Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries in a customer questionnaire. In addition, according to the BBC, one of the chain’s social media accounts “liked” a post made by a group that supports separatist Tibet.
Along with closing the website for one week, the Shanghai Cyberspace Administration said that it was disabling access to the Marriott mobile app. Both moves are expected to disrupt bookings — both in China and around the world. The move could not only affect new bookings but also existing ones. According to Chinese media, some Chinese travelers are cancelling their existing reservations.
“Marriott International respects Chinese sovereignty and its territorial integrity… We sincerely apologize for any actions that led to misunderstanding on the aforementioned stance,” Marriott said in a statement.
The authorities reportedly 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.”
Tibet is governed by China as an autonomous region and both Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions of China. Beijing also considers Taiwan, which has its own democratic elections, to be a breakaway province.
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