Shanghai's market watchdog has opened an investigation into Marriott International for its alleged breach of China's Internet security and advertising laws after it was found to have listed Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet as separate countries in questionnaires and on its app.
Huangpu District's Internet regulator and market watchdog held meetings with executives of the hospitality company on January 9 and 10, urging them to remove all illegal content from their various platforms and make thorough checks to ensure it never happens again.
Marriott International has since issued three statements on its Weibo account. It apologized for the "mistakes," suspended all questionnaires and upgraded its app to correct the information. It restated that it respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The hospitality giant sparked fury among Chinese netizens after it listed Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet Autonomous Region as countries in an email questionnaire to its members. Anger flared up after netizens found the same "mistake" on its smartphone app.
Marriott International merely attributed the listing as a "system glitch," without further elaborating, according to a report by thepaper.cn on January 9.
A netizen by the nickname "Zhongjusaodi" was the first to expose the issue online. Their post has since been forwarded over 20,000 times and received more than 40,000 'likes.'
"Zhongjusaodi" told thepaper.cn that it's not the first time Marriott International has made such mistakes. Its members have made several complaints in the past, after which the hotel sometimes corrected errors and sometimes left them as they were.