China probes foreign companies labeling China's territories as independent countries
China's aviation authority on Friday demanded an apology from Delta Air Lines for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, while another government agency took aim at Inditex-owned fashion brand Zara and medical device maker Medtronic Plc for similar issues.
The moves follow a regulator's decision on Thursday to suspend Marriott International Inc's Chinese website for a week to punish the world's biggest hotel chain for listing Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in a customer questionnaire.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China asked Delta to investigate the listing of Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, and called for an "immediate and public" apology.
The aviation authority also said it would require all foreign airlines operating routes to China to conduct comprehensive investigations of their websites, apps and customer-related information and "strictly comply with China's laws and regulations to prevent a similar thing from happening."
In a statement, Delta apologized for making "an inadvertent error with no business or political intention," saying it recognized the seriousness of the issue and had taken steps to resolve it.
Separately, the same regulator that penalized Marriott - the Shanghai branch of the state cyberspace administration - accused Zara of placing Taiwan in a pull-down list of countries on its Chinese website.
Medtronic had also put "Republic of China (Taiwan)" on one of its websites, the office said in a WeChat post.
Medtronic issued an apology via social media, saying it had updated the website. An executive who answered the phone at Zara's Shanghai office was not able to immediately comment.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing on Friday that Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet were all part of China.
"The companies that come to China should respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by China's laws, and respect the feelings of the Chinese people. This is the minimum requirement of any company going to another country to carry out business and investment," he said.