Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

China targets websites mentioning Taiwan as a country

China targets websites mentioning Taiwan as a country

Taiwan and Tibet were listed as possible countries of origin for passengers wishing to submit a comment or complaint on the Delta Air Lines website.

The latest demand came just a day after USA hotel group Marriott was ordered to shut down its Chinese websites for a week for conducting an email survey in which it put Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet on a par with China as a nation.

The cyberspace administration and market supervision bureau of Huangpu district in Shanghai said they had conducted interviews with the companys representatives in China and ordered all related content to be removed from its website and mobile app.

"Marriott International respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity", it said.

In a Mandarin-language questionnaire sent out to customers a few days ago, Marriott listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries.

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

Medtronic had also put "Republic of China (Taiwan)" on one of its websites, the office said in a WeChat post, giving both companies until 6 pm local time to apologize.

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China claims sovereignty over all four of territories, though Taiwan is self-ruled and has democratic elections.

"Political stance is the most important part of the brand awareness when foreign companies do businesses here", said Zhu Guangyu, a 44-year-old consumer from Shanghai.

In response, the country's internet regulator has accused Marriott International of breaking Chinese law and ordered it to close its Chinese website and online booking applications for a week.

Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based economics professor, said foreign companies needed to be aware of Chinese people's deep-rooted sensibilities. "We apologize deeply for hurting the feelings of Chinese people".

"We recognise the severity of the situation and sincerely apologise".

The United States, along with many other countries, does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation and officially sticks to the "One China" position, but has kept informal relations with the island after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.

Hong Kong and Macau are former British and Portuguese colonies, respectively, that are now "special administrative regions" under China.

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