Arne Sorenson, the president and CEO of Marriott International, said on Thursday that the hotel group "respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China".
The company said it had corrected a survey sent to members of its loyalty program that labeled certain regions, including Tibet, as countries, and was conducting a full review of its Chinese website and apps.
The Chinese government on Friday demanded public apologies from Spanish fast-fashion retailer Zara, U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines and Irish medical device company Medtronic, after they singled out Taiwan as a separate country on their websites.
USA carrier Delta Air Lines has also been reprimanded by the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) for labelling Taiwan and Tibet as countries.
China claims sovereignty over all four of territories, though Taiwan is self-ruled and has democratic elections.
Delta and Zara, however, are not the only companies to be publicly scolded by China this week. While Marriott has over 100 hotels in the country under different brands, it is also keen to profit from the swelling number of Chinese people travelling internationally. Mainland China considers Taiwan to be a rebel province with which it will one day be reunited, by force if necessary.
Though Marriott made several posts on Weibo to apologize, it is not clear whether Marriott actively monitors mentions on Weibo or whether they might have been able to get ahead of the negative backlash in real-time. Regulators have started an investigation into Marriott for violating local laws on Internet security and advertising. The Marriott hotel chain had its website and app blocked yesterday for a similar political misstep.
Marriott reportedly promised to cooperate with the authorities for the investigation. The ruling Communist party has long insisted to the rest of the world that these regions, as well as Hong Kong, should always be described as being part of China. "We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize", Sorenson said in a statement.
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