The latest demand came just a day after US hotel group Marriott was ordered to shut down its Chinese websites for a week for conducting an email survey in which it put Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet on a par with China as a nation. USA -based Delta, Spanish clothing chain Zara and US medical device maker Medtronic were targeted, the Liberty Times reported.
Zara, Delta and Medtronic were ordered to remove the "illegal content" and make public apologies, airline and internet regulators said. For all intents and purposes, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are "countries" in the sense that they have separate visa and entry requirements. China has punished Hollywood stars Richard Gere and Brad Pitt for appearing in films which may have promoted the notion of a separate Tibet.
Medtronic had also put "Republic of China (Taiwan)" on one of its websites, the office said, giving both companies until 6pm local time to apologise. The ruling communist party in China sees itself as the agent for righting these historical wrongs and transforming China from a victim into a global, assertive power.
According to market observers, Marriott is operating 270 hotels with almost 100,000 rooms in China. A Marriott account was then used to "liked" the Friends of Tibet comment.
"We don't support separatist groups that subvert the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China", the company said in a statement. "Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite", the company's president and CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement.
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Delta's apology was similarly groveling.
In a statement, Delta apologised for making "an inadvertent error with no business or political intention", saying it recognised the seriousness of the issue and had taken steps to resolve it.
The company said it had corrected a survey sent to members of its loyalty programme that labelled certain regions, including Tibet, as countries, and was conducting a full review of its Chinese website and apps.
Civil Aviation Administration of China said it would require all foreign airlines operating routes to China to conduct comprehensive investigation of their websites, apps and customer-related information and "strictly comply with China's laws and regulations to prevent a similar thing from happening".
Hong Kong and Macau, which were former British and Portuguese colonies respectively, are ruled as Special Administrative Regions (SAR) by the Beijing central government. In recent weeks, Taiwan has reported increased incursions into its airspace by military planes from China.