China cracks down on firms over Tibet and Taiwan status
China is stepping up its policing of international companies and demanding they respect the government's position on long-standing territorial disputes from Taiwan to Tibet.
The Cyber Administration Office in Shanghai said last Friday that fashion retailer Zara listed Taiwan, the island China claims as its own, as a separate country on its website.
On the same day, China's Civil Aviation Administration summoned executives of Delta Airlines as the carrier had listed Taiwan and Tibet, located in western China, as nations on its website. The companies were asked to change the "illegal" contents.
China is showing less tolerance of what it sees as violations of its political bottom line by foreign companies. The warnings signal that the country may deploy more sticks against foreign companies that can't risk losing business in the world's second-biggest economy.
"The general political atmosphere these days is that you don't stand on the wrong side of sovereignty issues in the Xi Jinping era," said Ether Yin, partner at research firm Trivium China in Beijing.
International companies operating in China should respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, state broadcaster CCTV said, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang's comments at a regular briefing.
"Delta recognizes the seriousness of this issue and we took immediate steps to resolve it," according to a statement from the airline's corporate office. "It was an inadvertent error with no business or political intention, and we apologise deeply for the mistake." Inditex, the owner of Zara, didn't have an immediate comment.
Earlier in the week, Shanghai government agencies summoned Marriott International's executives in China, after the company's Chinese-language website listed Tibet and Taiwan under "nation" and spurred intense online criticism. The company apologised on Chinese social media platforms.
Sunday Indo Business