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China shuts website over Tibet mistake

Marriott Draws Fire Over Geography Slip-Up

Chinese authorities say they have blocked the Marriott website and app for a week after the hotel group listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate "countries" in its emails and app.

Shanghai cyberspace administration Friday ordered two transnational enterprises Zara and Medtronic to remove all illegal content from their websites.

Medtronic immediately issued a statement saying the company "completely understands the stance of the Chinese government on relevant sovereignty issues", adding, "we sincerely apologize for causing misunderstanding among the public".

Visitors to Delta's complaint and comment section on its Chinese website could select Tibet and Taiwan as countries which they were from, as of Friday morning in China.

China is stepping up its policing of global companies such as Inditex SA-owned Zara and Delta Air Lines Inc. and demanding they respect the government's position on long-standing territorial disputes from Taiwan to Tibet. USA -based Delta, Spanish clothing chain Zara and US medical device maker Medtronic were targeted, the Liberty Times reported. The warnings signal that the country may deploy more sticks against foreign companies that can't risk losing business in the world's second-biggest economy.

After issuing a public apology in response to the geographical gaffe on the emailed questionnaire, he was forced to speak out once more when it transpired that an employee had "liked" and shared a Twitter post by Friends of Tibet, which campaigns for independence for the region.

But Marriott's inclusion of Tibet - a Chinese provincial-level autonomous region - was the straw that broke the camel's back for Zhongjusaodi and others.

The company's Chinese language website and app has been taken offline for a week as changes are made. "You first earned Chinese people's money, and then hurt our feelings". The island, run by a government different from the mainland, is called the Republic of China (ROC).

Marriott has now begun an investigation. "Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite", the company's president and CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement.

Hong Kong and Macau, which were former British and Portuguese colonies respectively, are ruled as Special Administrative Regions (SAR) by the Beijing central government.