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When will Marriott stop labelling Tibet as a nation on all of its websites to honor its word

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    09:37, January 19, 2018

Recently, U.S. hotel giant Marriott created a furor in China after it incorrectly labeled certain regions in China, including Tibet, as countries, and “liked” the post of a separatist group, seriously violating national laws and hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.

Afterward, Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson apologized to China and the Chinese people over the mistake, stating that Marriott International “respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.”

“We don’t support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and we do not intend in any way to encourage or incite any such people or groups,” Sorenson said in a statement dated January 11. “We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize,” he added.

“In the aftermath of these two events, here’s what we have done. As soon as we became aware of the issue with the survey, we worked to take it down and make the necessary corrections. We also reviewed the other areas on our websites and apps where this type of functionality might exist to make sure the labeling is correct,” Sorenson said, regarding the “careless” incident.

How ridiculous it is, therefore, that its English-language website still categorizes Tibet as a separate country.

Marriott Traveler, a travel and lifestyle publication launched by Marriott International to “provide consumers with more meaningful travel destination content and information” still suggest that Tibet is a separate country.

In one post titled “How to Plan a Day of Breathtaking Beauty in Beijing,” Marriott Traveler tells its readers that (surprise, surprise) you can find Tibetan culture even in a place like Beijing which, according to the Marriott publication, apparently has bad “relations with” Tibet.

“Another unexpected find in Beijing, given the state of China’s relations with Tibet, is the presence in the city of anything paying homage to Tibetan culture,” it says.

In another post titled “Find a Biker’s Nirvana in the World’s Most Surprising Cycling Vacations,” Marriott International is much more direct about its position as a supporter of separatist movements in China.

“The road from Tibet to Nepal, which loosely follows the ‘Friendship Highway’ between the two countries, passes several sky-scraping reference points,” it says, adding that you’ll journey past Yamdrok Lake in Tibet and “both of the country’s” Everest Base Camps.

If Marriott International wants to be clear that it does not support separatist elements in China, then it sure has a funny way of showing it.

After incorrectly labeling certain regions within China as countries and “liking” the post of a group of a separatist group, the U.S.-based company said it reviewed of all of its materials, including its websites, and promised that such situations would never happen again.

The apology and necessary corrections come after the Chinese government required Marriott to shut down its Chinese website and its Chinese apps for a week and opened an investigation into the company for violating cybersecurity and advertising laws.

Those websites and apps were back up as of Thursday, but Marriott’s promise was empty and its effort was half-hearted. There should not be a double-standard for its Chinese and foreign language websites and apps.

The fact that Tibet is part of China is common sense. “Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and Tibet are all parts of China, and this is the objective fact as well as the consensus of the international community,” said Lu Kang, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a regular press conference on January 12.

The president and CEO of Marriott International has said that his company respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China, yet its official website sends a different message. Unless Marriott wants to further hurt its image in and relations with China and Chinese customers, it should revise or remove its incorrect travel information.

Marriott is not the only international company involved in this issue. According to Chinese media outlets, Delta Air Lines, Zara, and other companies in recent weeks have also came under fire for listing Chinese territory as separate countries.

China welcomes foreign corporations’ investment and operations, but they must also respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by China’s laws, and respect Chinese people’s national feelings. “This is the minimum requirement,” Lu said.

Marriott should drop the double-standard and clear up the misinformation on all their websites, regardless of language. China and the Chinese people are waiting for Marriott to honor its word. 

Update: We are happy to report that Marriott has removed the two stories on its Marriott Traveler website that incorrectly labeled Tibet as a nation.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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