China Shuts Marriott International Site Over “Tibet Gaffe”

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By J. Krishna Moorti:

The freedom of speech, expression, and views should not be considered as punishment. The authorities in Shanghai, on Thursday, closed down Marriott International Inc.’s Chinese website for a week, punishing the worlds biggest hotel chain for listing Chinese-claimed regions such as Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries on a questionnaire.

In this shocking development, the U.S. company issued an apology earlier in the day for the gaffe, which had drawn accusations of disrespecting Chinese sovereignty for a boycott by angry Netizens on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, according to a media report.

“Marriott International respects Chinese sovereignty and its territorial integrity. We sincerely apologize for any actions that led to a misunderstanding of the aforementioned stance,” the company stated on its official website, Weibo account.

Before making this statement, it is proper and appreciated if the Marriott International should have approached appropriate U.S. authorities to respond. Chinese action to shut down their site by the Chinese authorities as stated. However, with China being a duplicitous nation, it often disrespects the United Nations in all possible ways.

Aside from closing down the website, the Shanghai Cyberspace Administration said it was shutting the Marriott’s mobile application in a move that would also disrupt bookings. In a questionnaire sent out customers a few days ago, Marriott listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as separate countries.

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

The direction of Shanghai government to Marriott to take down all relevant content, conduct a thorough check on all contents it posted on its website and online application is a lawful step, which may be required and questionable but there is absolutely no need for punishment under the law. The fundamental right would be protected when there is no crime for punishment.

This action of Shanghai government against Marriott for any crime is an insult to the US and their growth in the Chinese region.


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