The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is throwing yet another hissy fit because the wider world has not blindly accepted its nationalist propaganda as many its citizens do; and once again it is the people of Taiwan who are suffering the consequences.
The latest bone of contention is the way that international businesses are listing Taiwan, and certain other places the CCP lays claim to, on their websites.
If this sounds like a petty issue that should be beneath the interests of the regime that runs one of the world’s superpowers, then that is because it is. But such is the CCP’s insecurity and determination to assert its dubious territorial claim to Taiwan, it seems there is no level they will not stoop to try to undermine the democratic will of the Taiwanese people.
Marriott grovels to the CCP
The issue first arose last week, when the Marriott Hotel chain issued a sniveling apology to the CCP after it pointed out that Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau were listed as countries on an email sent from their loyalty scheme.
This is not the first time Marriott has listed all four as countries, and there has been no shortage of Chinese people using Marriott Hotels around the world without becoming unduly distressed. In fact, it’s safe to say they probably did not notice and certainly would not have cared if they had!
It is therefore abundantly clear that this is yet another incident of the CCP using its economic bully-boy tactics to score political points against Taiwan’s democratic government.
The President and CEO of Marriott Hotels, Arne Sorenson, said in an apology that was clearly approved, if not written by, CCP officials, "We don’t support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China… We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize."
He then went on to threaten to sack any staff found to have been responsible for listing the two countries on the website. It is to be hoped that his statement will not be acted upon and that no one loses their jobs as a result of doing what most websites around the world have done for years. They would have a decent shout for an unfair dismissal claim if they lost their job just because of an authoritarian regime throwing its toys out of the pram.
The CCP’s concerted effort to throw its weight about
It is not just Marriott that the CCP have been targeting. Medical device maker Medtronic and fashion chain Zara have all been rebuked for similar faux-pas. And the latest company to be targeted is Delta Airlines.
It is reported that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has demanded the US carrier apologizes for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on their website. The Tibet option has now been removed, but at the time of writing Taiwan remains and Delta is yet to issue a public statement.
This is the way it should be. Tibet is currently occupied by China and therefore does not currently meet the definition of a nation state. But Taiwan undeniably does.
Taiwan boasts a democratically elected government, its own currency, military, tax and legal system. And most importantly as far as Delta is concerned, Taiwanese citizens fly on Taiwanese passports. By any interpretation, Taiwan meets the definition of a country and but for Chinese bullying, would be recognized as such by the rest of the world.
It is to be hoped that Delta does not kowtow to China’s threats and takes no further action to remove Taiwan from their website. Certainly, it is to be hoped that they have the self-respect not to issue the same type of CCP drafted press release as Marriott did. I dread to think what Donald Trump might tweet about that!
Companies like Marriott should be aware of the consequences of responding to complaints from the Chinese Communist regime in this manner.
For a start they are normalizing the actions of a brutal regime which is occupying Tibet and repressing the innocent people there, and which wants to do the same in Taiwan too. This is inexcusable and should be seen as unacceptable in the free, democratic western world.
It should certainly be unacceptable in Taiwan and Marriott should be made acutely aware that by taking such actions they are offending a country of some 23 million people, the vast majority of whom consider themselves nothing other than Taiwanese.
I would assume that the Taiwanese Government will protest to Marriott Hotel group about their statement and any other corporation who removes Taiwan from their list of countries.
But it is clear that money is the only thing that groups like Marriott care about, and here it is down to the Taiwanese people to take action too. I would expect most Taiwanese people, those who support their rights, and those who are simply opposed to the Communist one-party state in China to be boycotting Marriott hotels until Taiwan is once again listed as a country on their website.
It is up to individual corporations where they want their corporate moral lines to be drawn. But if they are transparently enabling an authoritarian regime to repress, or attempt to repress the people of another state, it is also up to individuals around the world, to show them whether their stance is acceptable or not.