Delta, Zara made to publicly apologize for also listing Taiwan as a ‘country’

Failing at Doing Business in China 101

Last week, the American hotel chain Marriott got its Chinese website shut down for breaking perhaps the cardinal rule of doing business in China. Turns out, they weren’t the only ones.

Delta Air Lines has found itself in some similar serious trouble with China’s civil aviation regulator for listing both Tibet and Taiwan as “countries” on its website. On Friday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China ordered that Delta immediately rectify this issue, investigate how it occurred, and issue a public apology.

The airline made its apology a short time later, stating that it recognized the “seriousness” of what it had done.

“Delta recognizes the seriousness of this issue and we took immediate steps to resolve it,” the company said in a statement.

“It was an inadvertent error with no business or political intention, and we apologize deeply for the mistake. As one of our most important markets, we are fully committed to China and to our Chinese customers.”

Also on Friday, the Shanghai office of China’s internet regulator ordered both European clothing retailer Zara and American medical equipment maker Medtronic to remove references to Taiwan being a “country” on their websites and examine how these listings occurred. Both companies have since apologized publicly and updated their websites.

The previous day, the Shanghai Cyberspace Administration ordered Marriott to suspend operation of its Chinese website and app for one week in penance for a global survey sent to rewards club members which listed Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, and Macau as separate “countries,” a political faux pas that “seriously violated” Chinese regulations and “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”

Afterward, the hotel chain attempted to distance itself from Chinese separatists:

On Friday, China’s foreign ministry even weighed in on the matter.

“We welcome foreign enterprises to do business in China,” said ministry spokesman Lu Kang.

“Meanwhile, they should respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by Chinese law, and respect the Chinese peoples’ feelings, which are the foundation for any corporation to do business in any country.”