Marriott CEO makes apology, recognizes 'severity' of territorial gaff

US hotel chain Marriott International's CEO apologized Thursday after it listed Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet as separate countries on some of its online content.

US hotel chain Marriott International’s CEO apologized Thursday after it listed Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet as separate countries in an email questionnaire for Chinese members and on its app.

Arne Sorenson, Marriott's president and CEO, said they don’t support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and 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 statement said, in a more solemn tone than previous apologies issued on Chinese social media which were slammed as casual and insincere.

The world’s largest hotel chain has sparked an outcry among Chinese after it incorrectly labeled Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet Autonomous Region as separate countries in a drop-down menu on a survey sent to members. Soon after, it “liked” a tweet about the incident that was posted by a Tibet separatist group.

Marriott International was ordered by the Shanghai Cyberspace Administration to shut down its Chinese website and apps and thoroughly scrutinize their content, a punishment that could disrupt bookings.

It said it would be taking the necessary disciplinary action against the individuals involved in the territorial blunder, which could include “termination, changing our approval and review procedures for online content, reviewing our customer feedback channels, and enhancing training.”


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