Marriott apologizes for labeling China's territories as independent countries

Xinhua Published: 2018-01-12 19:35:10
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U.S. hotel chain Marriott's chief executive officer (CEO) apologized Thursday for listing Tibet, among other parts of China, as an independent country in a mail questionnaire, and promised to take measures to prevent such incidents.

The headquarters of Marriott International in Bethesda, Maryland, the US, on January 11, 2018. [Photo: Xinhua]

The headquarters of Marriott International in Bethesda, Maryland, the US, on January 11, 2018. [Photo: Xinhua]

"Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite," the company's President and CEO Arne Sorenson said in the statement.

"We don't support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and we do not intend in any way to encourage or incite any such people or groups. We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize," the message said, in a more solemn tone than previous ones offered on Chinese media that were slammed as insincere.

The statement said the company has corrected the improper actions and checked its websites and mobile apps for other possible errors and will fully cooperate with investigations launched by the Chinese authorities.

"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," the statement said.

During a recent promotion program, Marriott listed Chinese territories, including Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as "countries" in a drop-down menu, and one of its Twitter accounts was found to have "liked" a Tibetan separatist group, drawing fire from Chinese netizens and prompting a probe from China's Internet and market supervisors to determine whether Marriott's actions violated Chinese laws.

The statement said the company has corrected improper actions and checked its websites and mobile apps for other possible errors and will fully cooperate with investigations launched by Chinese authorities.

"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," the statement said.

Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration Thursday night summoned Marriott International representatives in the city, ordering the hotel chain to conduct a thorough inspection of all the content, publish the investigation result in a timely manner, and apologize to the public.

Those held accountable for the incident should be punished, the administration said.

Marriott alone operates 270 hotels and nearly 100,000 guest rooms in China. Chinese consumers were known to contribute to sales performances of foreign brands, but as the incident underscored, some foreign companies still have a long way to go in learning to show enough respect

On Friday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson called on foreign enterprises to respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity after the Marriott incident.

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

"We welcome foreign enterprises to do business in China. Meanwhile, they should respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by Chinese law, and respect the Chinese peoples' feelings, which are the foundation for any corporation to do business in any country," spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily press briefing.

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