Marriott International has been forced to issue a grovelling apology to authorities in China after the hotel giant incorrectly labelled Tibet and Taiwan as independent countries in a survey sent out to loyalty members.
China's cyber regulator has demanded meetings in Shanghai with two top regional executives from the American hotel chain and ordered the company to "conduct a comprehensive self-review and rectification".
"Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China".
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Sorenson has described China previously as the company's largest market. "This is the minimum requirement of any company going to another country to carry out business and investment", he said.
The original post, by Weibo user Zhongjusaodi, had called the survey "disgusting" and questioned the intelligence of Marriott's Greater China employees.
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Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based economics professor, said foreign companies needed to be aware of Chinese people's deep-rooted sensibilities. Mainland China considers Taiwan to be a rebel province with which it will one day be reunited, by force if necessary.
Officials said Marriott had "seriously violated national laws and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people". "We sincerely apologize for any actions that may have suggested otherwise".
Hong Kong and Macau, which were former British and Portuguese colonies respectively, are ruled as Special Administrative Regions (SAR) by the Beijing central government.
It has been reported that Chinese private sector online firms including Meituan and Dianping have removed Marriott from their hotel booking services.
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