Chinese authorities investigate hotel's customer questionnaire
By Li Shengnan
‍‍Chinese authorities have shut down Marriott International's website in China. The US hotel giant mistakenly listed the Chinese regions of Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as separate countries in a questionnaire sent out to customers.
Shanghai's cyberspace authority responded late on Thursday by ordering Marriott, which operates more than 120 hotels in China, to close its local website and app, and completely clear out illegal and irregular information.
The company's blunder, for which it has since apologized, triggered an uproar on Chinese social media.
A JW Marriott hotel /VCG Photo

A JW Marriott hotel /VCG Photo

Some called on the public to boycott Marriott, saying the company "cannot earn money from China on the one hand, and hurt China's national interests on the other" and that "China will not tolerate companies engaging in tricks to violate national interests."
Marriott's Chinese website now carries a message with an apology.
It says the company does not support separatist organizations that damage China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The company says it sincerely apologizes for any actions that led to misunderstandings about its stance.
Marriott's Chinese website and app have not been accessible since Thursday evening.
Statement from Marriott's president and CEO /Screenshot via

Statement from Marriott's president and CEO /Screenshot via

Shanghai authorities are probing whether the gaffe in the company's questionnaire violated national cybersecurity and advertising laws.
"We welcome foreign investment, and the foreign companies here must respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by China's laws and regulations and respect Chinese people's national sentiments," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang on Friday. "This is also the basic respect to the country that any foreign company that invests here must show." 
The hotel giant has planned to open dozens more locations in China in the coming years.
It also formed a joint venture with China's Internet giant Alibaba to sell online travel bookings. The partnership will give Marriott access to over 500 million people and expand its market.
But it seems the company now has to learn some basic principles before it goes bigger in China.