Two major airlines and a global hotel chain have been forced by Chinese authorities to apologize after their respective websites listed Hong Kong and Taiwan as independent countries. Public ethics professor Clive Hamilton called the actions of the People’s Republic of China “economic blackmail.”
It has emerged that Marriott, Delta Air Lines and Qantas – along with a host of other international conglomerates – have all issued apologies to China within the last week for listing both Hong Kong and Taiwan as independent countries on their respective websites, Business Insider reports.
The outlet reports that Chinese authorities began contacting corporations regarding what it considered to be errors on their respective websites last week. Hong Kong and Macau are both classed as Special Administrative Regions (SARs) within China while Taiwan – which considers itself an independent entity – is viewed as a province within the nation.
The outlet reports that Chinese authorities forced Marriott to take down both its website as well as its app while these mistakes were corrected.
A statement was later released by Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, which read, “Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We don’t support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and we do not intend in any way to encourage or incite any such people or groups. We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize.”
Australia’s flag carrier has also confirmed to the outlet that it had erroneously listed Taiwan and Hong Kong as independent countries on its website. “Due [to] an oversight, some Chinese territories were incorrectly listed as ‘countries’ on parts of our website. We are correcting this error,” a spokesperson for Qantas told Business Insider.
Late last week, Delta Air Lines was also forced to apologize after it had listed both Tibet and Taiwan as countries on its website.
Offering insight into the situation, public ethics professor Clive Hamilton said, “The People’s Republic of China is engaging in economic blackmail, imposing acceptance of its geopolitical ambitions on corporations that want to operate in the country.”