Australia's Qantas has changed its website classification of Taiwan and Hong Kong from separate countries to Chinese territories after Chinese regulators scolded several foreign firms over similar listings. The airline said yesterday it was amending an "oversight," following in the footsteps of several other international corporations who were called out by Chinese authorities over the past week.
"Due to an oversight, some Chinese territories were incorrectly listed as ‘countries' on parts of our website," a Qantas spokesperson told Agence France-Presse (AFP). "We are correcting this error."
Last week, Shanghai's cyberspace authority sent a stern message to international firms when it ordered Marriott to shut down its Chinese website for a week and amend what it termed the "illegal" categorization of regions Beijing claims under its authority.
Spanish clothing giant Zara, Delta Air Lines and Medtronic, a medical device company, were also called out for listing Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong as separate countries. The firms were urged to "immediately alter their illegal content and publish apologies."
They have since apologized and changed their websites.In a separate rebuke, the Civil Aviation Administration of China noted in an online statement that Tibet and Taiwan were listed as countries on Delta's official website. The airline issued a public apology and amended its classifications of the regions. The backlash was triggered on Chinese social media after Marriott established a customer questionnaire in Mandarin asking members of the hotel chain's rewards program to list their country of residence, offering Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as possible options. This drew the ire of authorities as Tibet is an "autonomous region" that has firmly been under Chinese control since the 1950s. Hong Kong and Macau are former British and Portuguese colonies, respectively, that are now "special administrative regions" of China. Taiwan has been self-ruled since splitting from the mainland after a 1949 civil war, but Beijing continues to claim sovereignty over the island.