After Marriott listed Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet as “countries,” Delta Air Lines and European clothing retailer Zara were forced by the Chinese government to publicly apologize for making the same mistake.
On Friday, Delta got into trouble for listing Tibet and Taiwan as “countries” on its website, according to Shanghaiist. The company was then ordered by the Civil Aviation Administration of China to issue a public apology, and to investigate how this mistake happened in the first place.
“Delta recognizes the seriousness of this issue and we took immediate steps to resolve it. It was an inadvertent error with no business or political intention, and we apologize deeply for the mistake. As one of our most important markets, we are fully committed to China and to our Chinese customers,” the company wrote in its statement.
Then, on the same day, the Shanghai office of China’s internet regulator ordered Zara and American medical equipment maker Medtronic to apologize and remove the references to Taiwan being a “country” from their websites.
Both companies have since apologized for the mishap and updated their websites.
A spokesman from China’s foreign ministry weighed in on the matter, saying that companies overseas are welcome in the country as long as they follow China’s laws.
“We welcome foreign enterprises to do business in China. Meanwhile, they should respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by Chinese law, and respect the Chinese peoples’ feelings, which are the foundation for any corporation to do business in any country,” ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Friday.
The issue comes after the Marriott global survey that the hotel chain sent to its rewards club members listed Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong as separate countries. The action was reportedly a political faux pas, and “seriously violated” Chinese regulations as well as “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”