Shanghai temporarily closes Marriott website in China after questionnaire gaffe

By Pei Li and Brenda Goh

BEIJING (Reuters) - Authorities in Shanghai on Thursday closed down Marriott International Inc's Chinese website for a week, punishing the world's biggest hotel chain for listing Chinese-claimed regions such as Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries in a customer questionnaire.

The U.S. company issued an apology earlier in the day for the gaffe, which had drawn accusations of disrespecting Chinese sovereignty and calls for a boycott by angry netizens on Weibo, China's version of Twitter.

"Marriott International respects Chinese sovereignty and its territorial integrity...We sincerely apologize for any actions that led to misunderstanding on the aforementioned stance," the company said in a statement on its official Weibo account.

Aside from closing down the website, the Shanghai Cyberspace Administration said in statement that it was shutting the Marriott's mobile phone application, in a move that would also disrupt bookings.

In a Mandarin-language questionnaire sent out to customers a few days ago, Marriott listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries.

China claims sovereignty over all four of territories, though Taiwan is self-ruled and has democratic elections.

The Shanghai government said it had asked Marriott to "take down all relevant content, conduct a thorough check on all contents it posted on its website and online application to prevent anything similar, and address the public's concern in a timely fashion to eliminate a negative impact."

It also said Shanghai's Huangpu district market supervision bureau was launching an investigation into Marriott, as it was suspected of violating China's cyber security law and advertisement law.

Last year, South Korean companies were hit heavily by Chinese economic retaliation over Seoul's deployment of a US missile shield system.

(Reporting by Pei Li and Brenda Goh; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Related News

Trump breaks ice with China's Xi in letter...

Feb 9, 2017

US-USA-TRUMP-CHINA:Trump breaks ice with China's Xi in letter seeking 'constructive' ties

New Zealand central bank shifts focus to external...

Feb 9, 2017

US-NEWZEALAND-CENBANK-ASSISTANTGOV:New Zealand central bank shifts focus to external risks:...

Philippine minister says mine closures in...

Feb 9, 2017

US-PHILIPPINES-MINING:Philippine minister says mine closures in watershed areas non-negotiable

Australian banks face renewed push for intrusive...

Feb 9, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-BANKS-INQUIRY:Australian banks face renewed push for intrusive inquiry

Pope says 'at peace' confronting Vatican...

Feb 9, 2017

US-POPE-CORRUPTION:Pope says 'at peace' confronting Vatican corruption, sex abuse

Macquarie, ING join Apple Pay in Australia in...

Feb 10, 2017

US-APPLE-AUSTRALIA-BANKS:Macquarie, ING join Apple Pay in Australia in challenge to Big Four

You may also like these

Australia struggles to improve lives of...

Feb 14, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-POLITICS-INDIGENOUS:Australia struggles to improve lives of indigenous population

Banks lift stocks to record, U.S. yields up after...

Feb 15, 2017

GLOBAL-MARKETS/ (WRAPUP 8, GRAPHIC):GLOBAL MARKETS-Banks lift stocks to record, U.S. yields up...

Olympic champion Hackett found after going missing

Feb 16, 2017

US-SWIMMING-AUSTRALIA-HACKETT:Olympic champion Hackett found after going missing

Pharma industry shuns Trump push for radical...

Feb 15, 2017

US-USA-TRUMP-HEALTHCARE-REGULATION-ANALYSIS:Pharma industry shuns Trump push for radical shift at...

Australian PM rejects calls to exempt banks from...

Feb 18, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-BANKS:Australian PM rejects calls to exempt banks from tax cut plan

Sign up now!