China’s tourism authority has urged accommodation companies to review their websites and apps to fix what Beijing deems to be inaccurate labeling of Taiwan or other Chinese-claimed territories as countries.
The move expands the Chinese government’s efforts of recent days to police how foreign businesses refer to parts of China, or territories claimed by Beijing, including Taiwan and Hong Kong, even if only in pull-down menus on websites.
On 11 January, the government suspended Marriott International Inc’s Chinese website for a week to punish the world’s biggest hotel chain for listing Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in a customer questionnaire.
No activities that challenge China’s “legal red lines” would be permitted, the state news agency Xinhua quoted a China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) official as saying.
It said the administration had ordered immediate and thorough checks of websites and apps by accommodation companies to ensure they comply with the law.
The civil aviation authority on 12 January demanded an apology from Delta Air Lines for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, while another government agency took aim at Inditex-owned fashion brand Zara and medical device maker Medtronic Plc for similar issues.
Marriott, Delta, Zara and Medtronic have all apologized.
The Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) ordered all foreign airlines operating routes to China on 12 January to check their websites and apps.
The crackdown was accompanied by an outcry online in China over the perceived slights, and efforts to unearth other infractions.
On 13 January, the Shanghai-based newspaper The Paper reported that it had found 24 other foreign airlines with websites listing Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau as countries. Most were in pull-down menus in registration or comments sections, it said.
The mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, the People’s Daily newspaper, said in an editorial “the essence of the problem is the ‘political arrogance’ of foreign companies unafraid to hurt the feelings of people from other countries”.