US carrier Delta apologizes for listing Chinese territories as "countries"
Foreign airlines and hotels have been told to review their websites and apps to ensure no Chinese territories are incorrectly labeled as countries, after errors by several major international companies were exposed.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China made the demand to airlines after Delta, the United States-based carrier, was found to have listed Tibet and Taiwan as countries in a drop-down menu in an online comments section.
It followed a similar warning for hotel companies from the China National Tourism Administration in response to Marriott International having listed Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Tibet as countries in an email survey.
"Foreign airlines operating routes to China should comprehensively check their websites, apps and other platforms immediately," the aviation authority said on Friday. "All should strictly comply with Chinese laws and regulations and ensure there are no similar mistakes."
The CAAC added that it had summoned representatives from Delta and asked for a thorough investigation into the incident to be published as soon as possible.
On Friday night, the US airline issued a statement online apologizing for its "serious mistake" and for hurting the feelings of the Chinese people. "China is one of Delta"s most important markets. We are fully committed to serving the Chinese market and customers," the company said.
When China Daily reporters visited the comments section on Delta"s website on Sunday, the title of the controversial drop-down menu had been changed from "country" to "country/region", and Tibet was no longer listed as a location.
The word "China" had been inserted before Hong Kong and Macao, but not Taiwan, in the menu on the Chinese-language version of the site. On the English-language version, the names of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan stood alone.
Shanghai news portal The Paper reported on Saturday that at least 24 members of the three global airline alliances - Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance - had labeled Chinese territories as countries on websites or apps.
However, on Sunday, China Daily reporters found that two of those companies - Finland"s Finnair and Russia"s S7 Airlines - labeled Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as Chinese regions. The others list the regions or Tibet as countries, or are vague on their status.
The notice from the top tourism authority said it had ordered immediate and thorough checks of websites and apps by hotels and other companies offering accommodations.
Marriott International issued a full apology last week and on Thursday was ordered to close down its Chinese website and app for a week. Some online hotel booking platforms, including Meituan-Dianping, the country"s largest group-purchasing company, have stopped selling rooms at Marriott properties.
Fashion retailer Zara and US medical equipment company Medtronic were also found to have similar mistakes on their websites. Both have apologized.