China orders probe into Marriott for listing Tibet as country

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Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing on Friday that Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet were all part of China.

The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is one of two autonomous provinces in China, while Hong Kong and Macau are designated as special administrative regions.

"According to the advertising law, Marriott may face a maximum fine of 1 million yuan (153,822 US dollars) or have its business license revoked", Wu said.

"Hotel companies must immediately review all information on their corporate websites and apps, and strictly abide by Chinese laws and regulations to firmly stop such incidents from happening again", it said.

The post congratulated the hotel group for listing Tibet as a country, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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Anger over Marriott's mistake snowballed after it was posted on the Communist Youth League's official account on Weibo, China's popular Twitter-like platform.

The Shanghai Tourism Administration also summoned the "person in charge" of the group's Shanghai branch and ordered the company to severely punish the employees responsible for the incident, news portal Thepaper.cn reported.

The US carrier Delta Airlines has apologized for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website and for "hurting the feelings of the Chinese people", and said that the company was "thoroughly examining internal processes", adding that it would take "urgent steps to correct errors".

"Nothing could be further from the truth", Sorenson said.

Shanghai authorities said in November they had fined a local advertising agency one million yuan ($150,000) over a Chinese map that appeared in an advertisement it produced, saying the map was inaccurate and "damaged the country's dignity".

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In a customer questionnaire in Mandarin, Marriott asked members of the chain's customer rewards programme to list their country of residence, giving Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as possible options.

Sorenson has previously described China as his firm's biggest market.The hotel conglomerate operates 6,200 properties in 125 countries around the world.

Marriott now has more than 100 properties in China.

China is usually quick to respond to any actions or statements it deems supportive of separatist movements, especially related to Tibet and Taiwan.

According to China's aviation authority, it would require all global airlines operating in China, to check up their websites, apps and customer-related information so that they "strictly comply with China's laws and regulations to prevent a similar thing from happening". Ctrip.com International Ltd, China's largest travel website, said in October the number of tourists using the week-long national holiday to visit South Korea plunged 70 percent this year.

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