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Shanghai probes Marriott hotels over geography gaffe

AFP  |  Shanghai 

Authorities in are investigating Marriott after it triggered an with a customer questionnaire that listed Chinese-claimed regions such as and as separate countries.

City officials said in a notice dated late Wednesday that they were probing whether the gaffe in Marriott International's Mandarin-language questionnaire violated national cyber-security and

Marriott has issued an apology and amended the online questionnaire, which asked members of the chain's customer rewards programme to list their country of residence, giving Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau, and as possible options.

claims indisputable sovereignty over all four of the territories and bristles at any suggestion of independence.

Anger over Marriott's mistake snowballed after it was posted on the Communist Youth League's official account on Weibo, China's popular Twitter-like platform.

Thousands of outraged comments and reposts ensued, many urging a Marriott boycott.

"Boycott Marriott! Get out of China!" one user said.

Another said that while Taiwan, Macau, and are sometimes listed separately, "it is the first time to list as such. This is too much".

is officially an "autonomous region" but firmly under Chinese control. and became British and Portuguese territories, respectively, in the age of European colonialism but are now "special administrative regions" under

has been self-ruled since a 1949 civil war split from the mainland, but continues to claim sovereignty over the island.

authorities said they met with Marriott's management earlier this week to demand that the offending materials be corrected and that the company do its best to rectify the "bad influence" from the affair.

Marriott has said it was "deeply sorry" and wished to "reiterate our usual stand in respecting China's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Marriott said it had fixed the errors and would "actively cooperate" with the government investigation.

has meted out punishment for similar cases before.

authorities said in November they had fined a local advertising agency one million yuan ($150,000) over a Chinese map that appeared in an advertisement it produced, saying the map was inaccurate and "damaged the country's dignity".

Authorities did not specify what was wrong with the map.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 11 2018. 13:30 IST