China targets websites mentioning Taiwan as a country

Marriott Hotels, Delta Air Lines and Zara on hit list

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Zara is one of the companies targeted by Chinese netizens. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Websites of major corporations such as Zara and Delta Air Lines listing Taiwan as a separate country were being targeted by authorities and netizens in China, reports said Friday.

The practice, described as a witch hunt, started with the United States hotel chain Marriott, which apologized to China this week for referring to Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries in e-mails asking members of its loyalty scheme to choose which country they lived in.

The hotel complied with requests from the authorities to delete the references from its online platforms, according to media reports.

However, as a result, Chinese netizens turned their attention to other multinational firms also listing Taiwan or Tibet on their lists of countries to be chosen by web users. U.S.-based Delta, Spanish clothing chain Zara and U.S. medical device maker Medtronic were targeted, the Liberty Times reported.

Taiwan was mentioned on Chinese-language lists headed “countries” on the respective companies’ websites. In the case of Medtronic, the list mentioned “Republic of China” in Chinese with “Taiwan” in English between brackets.

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.