China rebukes Zara, Delta for calling Taiwan 'country'

A deliveryman walks away from the entrance of a JW Marriott hotel in Beijing, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. The Marriot hotel chain apologized Thursday to Chinas government for referring to Tibet and self-ruled Taiwan as countries in a customer survey thThe Associated Press
A deliveryman walks away from the entrance of a JW Marriott hotel in Beijing, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. The Marriot hotel chain apologized Thursday to China's government for referring to Tibet and self-ruled Taiwan as countries in a customer survey that news reports said Chinese police investigated as a possible crime. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Chinese regulators rebuked fashion brand Zara, Delta Air Lines and medical device maker Medtronic on Friday for calling Taiwan a country on their websites in a fresh show of Beijing's acute sensitivity about the self-ruled island.

Zara, Delta and Medtronic were ordered to remove the "illegal content" and issue apologies, airline and internet regulators said. Other airlines were ordered to check their own websites.

Taiwan and the mainland split in 1949 after a civil war but the communist Beijing government claims the island as its territory and lashes out at publishers of books, maps or other materials that call it a country.

The hotel chain Marriott was ordered this week to shut down its mainland China website and app for a week after it sent out a customer survey that included Taiwan, Tibet and the Chinese territory of Hong Kong in a list of countries.

"Cyberspace is not an extralegal place, and multinational corporations should abide by relevant laws and regulations," the Shanghai Cyberspace Authority said on its microblog account.

Zara and Medtronic were "required to conduct a comprehensive self-examination," it said. The Civil Aviation Authority of China said it "demanded that Delta Air Lines apologize immediately and publicly."

Marriott International Group executives were questioned by Shanghai police in an investigation of possible violation of cybersecurity laws, according to news reports.

The CEO of Marriott International Inc., Arne Sorenson, said in a statement the company "respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China."

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