Shanghai authorities have investigated Marriott International after the U.S.-based hotel corporation categorized Chinese territories as countries in a mail questionnaire, angering its Chinese members.
The cyberspace administration and market supervision bureau of Huangpu District said late on January 10 that they had conducted interviews with the hotel company's representatives in China and ordered all related content to be removed from its website and mobile app.
On January 11, the cyberspace administration of Shanghai further ordered Marriott to shut down its Chinese website and Chinese APP for a week from 6 p.m. and conduct a thorough inspection on all the content and publish the investigation result in a timely fashion. The administration will take further steps accordingly.
Marriott sent out a mail questionnaire to its Chinese members on the morning of January 11, which listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as options under the question "Which country are you from?" Screenshots of the questionnaire posted on microblog site Weibo soon went viral and stirred a strong public backlash.
Marriott suspended the questionnaire late on January 10 and apologized twice on its Weibo account.
But many people are not satisfied with the belated apology.
"The first apology statement was only sent to the members," said a Chinese netizen.
"The apology is insincere," said another.
According to Wu Hai, a lawyer in Shanghai, it is a kind of advertising for Marriott to send questionnaires to its members through email. Therefore, he said listing the four places as "countries" had directly violated China's cybersecurity and advertising laws.
"According to the advertising law, Marriott may face a maximum fine of 1 million yuan (153,822 U.S. dollars) or have its business license revoked," Wu said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2018)