Marriott apologizes for labeling China's territories as independent countries

Zara is one of the companies targeted by Chinese netizens

Moreover, the statement said that the action against Marriott should be regarded as a warning to other global companies: "Hotel companies must immediately review all information on their corporate websites and apps, and strictly abide by Chinese laws and regulations to firmly stop such incidents from happening again", it read.

In response, Marriott chief executive Arne Sorenson said: "We don't support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and we do not intend in any way to encourage or incite any such people or groups".

As a reaction to the protests, Delta reportedly added "China" in front of Hong Kong and Macau, but let Taiwan be in the list titled "Countries and Territories", reports said.

China claims sovereignty over all four of territories, though Taiwan is self-ruled and has democratic elections.

The Chinese government on Friday demanded public apologies from Spanish fast-fashion retailer Zara, U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines and Irish medical device company Medtronic, after they singled out Taiwan as a separate country on their websites. "It was an inadvertent error with no business or political intention", the US airline said in a statement, after talks between its senior managers and officials at the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Meanwhile, Zara missed the official deadline, issuing a statement on its official website at around 8 p.m. Friday.

Chinese news websites carried screenshots of what they said were the websites of other prominent foreign brands that included Taiwan on lists of countries before being abruptly changed this week.

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"We sincerely apologize and thank guests and netizens for their candid feedback", it said.

Shanghai's Huangpu district market supervision bureau will also launch an investigation into whether Marriott has violated China's cyber security law and advertisement law.

The issue serves as a warning to multinational companies to be mindful of local laws and cultural sensitivities.

"Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China".

Many internet users called for a boycott of the hotel chain, while Chinese booking platforms Dianping and Meituan withdrew Marriott properties from their systems. Since her inauguration, Chinese visits to Taiwan have fallen significantly and more nations have severed diplomatic ties with the government in Taipei, in favor of Beijing.

Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China, and goes under various names in worldwide organizations, has been self-ruled since 1949 in defiance of the Communist regime in the PRC.

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