Marriott Demonstrates That China Rules All of Us

When Austin tried to impose its own regulations on Uber, they learned that they were too small a market to matter. California and New York may be able to influence a company’s behavior, but Austin cannot. As regulation is increasingly global, the most important markets set the rules.

China is the next big thing. That was true 15 years ago, and it will be true 15 years from now. But for companies making a big bet in the country, Beijing is able to exercise global sway.

Marriott and Delta got called out by China for listing territories they claim sovereignty over as independent entities including Taiwan and Tibet.

Marriott had their website shut down locally while they had to go review materials to ensure the issue isn’t replicated elsewhere. News reports are now hunting down airlines doing the same.

Apparently after Marriott apologized a Marriott employee working on the Marriott Rewards twitter account ‘liked’ a tweet by Friends of Tibet. Normally when companies engage in disciplinary proceedings against an individual employee they refuse to comment offering that such matters are confidential.

In this case, Marriott’s president and managing director of Asia-Pacific wants everyone to know the employee will be fired,

“Due to the mistake of an individual employee, our official [Twitter] account wrongly ‘liked’ the tweet supporting Tibet independence and misled the public. [We] have now suspended this employee and dismissal proceedings are under way,” he was quoted as saying.

More than being concerned that listing Taiwan and Tibet as separate entities “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” China is flexing its muscles and showing that Western companies will ingratiate themselves.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @pho tastee – this is my blog, and this is absolutely related to travel (but i write here whatever happens to strike me interesting).

    you’re welcome to offer your opinion of what i should and should not write, although it’s unlikely to influence those decisions very much.

  2. @Gary et al, You got that right. Soon China will be exercising its economic muscle to undermine freedoms and democratic priciples aroubd the world. It won’t be long before China censures any reference that could be construed as undermining its claims in international waters.

    A totalitarian regime’s biggest threat is the existence of freedom and democracy anywhere. The thugocracy in Russia is determined to undermine the appeal of democracy to its own people by making the United States, the world’s leading democracy, look foolish. It relies on disinformation, subterfuge, and alliances with Western political parties because its one-trick-pony economy is too weak to have global effect.

    China, on the other hand, will leverage its enormous economy to promote its political and military agenda. That is what the US has done around the world in the past. The US is playing into the hands of the Chinese politicians by retreating everywhere as the Chinese advance. “America first” policies are good news to the folks in Moscow and Beijing.

    The smaller some might say “shithole” countries in Asia, Africa and South America are particularly vulnerable. Even in the US, companies can be pressured to ignore the best interests of the country in tje name of profit. The Marriott story is a somewhat benign example.

    It was primarily the feelings of the Chinese Communist party that Marriott hurt. All of the investment in China is kind of suspect when the only rule of law is the Communist Party.

  3. And for all the pimping, I’d like to point out that hong Kong and Singapore are not political democracies

  4. Companies have been listing Taiwan (even HK and Macao) as a country for years and China rarely give a fuss about it. The problem is Tibet. Tibet is undisputedly a provincial entity under PRC’s control (whether this control is unjust or not is a different matter). Those put Tibet as a country must be doing this on purpose to provoke China. They are paying their price now.

  5. This is EXACTLY the case where China is doing things “DEMOCRATICALLY “. One Marionette club member who is a Chinese citizen found this and posted it on Weibo and caused enormous reaction among Chinese netizens. Then government has to act upon the people’s call.
    And you call it a case that endangers democracy? What hypocrisy.

  6. @mary sue no idea what you’re talking about, i think the issue is that your comment was put into the moderation queue automatically and since you posted in the middle of the night where i live it had to wait until around 6 a.m. before i cleared comments.

    though entirely separately you ought to do a bit more research on freedom of speech. and for that matter democracy. Why do you think I’m a hypocrite for pointing out something that you think involves democracy?

    – tell me about china’s electoral system
    – think back to tiananmen square where ostensibly Chinese citizens WANTED democracy, do you even think you understood their demand? it wasn’t to be one of a billion votes. it was a demand for liberty, protections against state power. and then the tanks.

  7. Who really gives a rat’s ass?

    How many Einsteins here will tell us about the glowing human rights situation and extraordinary democracy in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Argentina, Ethiopia, Cuba, Venezuela, Pakistan, India … even our beloved UK?

    If you don’t like the food, GTFO of the restaurant.

    Actually, people would have had to be morons for not seeing this coming. How many artists have been denied visas to enter China simply because they have had their photo taken with the Dalai Lama? Ask Richard Gere why he’s basically unemployable. Any movie he stars in will never be allowed to play in China. Is it right? Is it wrong? Doesn’t matter. It’s reality.

  8. If you dont like China, dont go. Dont be childish. The Chinese gov is so evil, why contributing to their evil economy, and tax that will definitely go to military? BTW on what basis do you think the majority of Chinese people WANT “democracy”? Your condescending ignorance? Take a look at Lybia, it’s in chaos now. Thanks to the “democracy”.

  9. all countries are equal and has their right to grant or deny visa application.
    1,my friends been denied cause he looks sad when been interviewed in usa ambassy.
    2, 700+ arrested during occupation of the walstret?
    3, the support to ISI3? ask hilary
    4, guantanam0 ? the crimes beyond coutry border?
    5, support to dalai lama the criminal who want half china to under his governance?
    6, …

    besides reality, intension is something you need pay more attension.

    is the criticis meant to expect improvement or just to arise hatred and instigate its people to fight with each other. i think all governments has the wits to tell.

    warbs wish others no good.

    when mr donald/usa says “usa first”. most might think usa is abandoning other country. truth might just be the other way round;)

    people should not speak ill of you when you nitice you has the power to influence others by posting your view(truth is trival) on web and you’re doing it here with no guilty.

    same apply to China using its non-violence power to influence its people/counterpart.

    keep order vs rule the world

  10. @Rrix – did I say “the majority of Chinese people want democracy” .. no, I said that tiananmen square protesters wanted freedom. I don’t have a way at getting at real preferences of Chinese citizens, surveys tell you nothing in unfree societies, see “preference falsification”

  11. Initially this blog was teaching readers how to take advantage of credit card loophole, now it becomes a different site talking about democracy in China. Too bad

  12. @Sam Why talking about democracy in China is too bad? You think that is irrelevant with travel and credit card? You believe credit cards will continue to remain in its current form for a very long time inspite of a toxic social environment on the other side of the world?

  13. Yeah u r right in China surveys are falsified. Well I understand millions and millions of Chinese visitors/students travel to US, EU and other places every year to spend their money and they should just escape the SHITHOLE and never go back. Did they? Oh right they have to go back because their families are held hostage. LOL

  14. China may rule Marriott but they don’t rule me. I say, think and do as I goddam well please. As far as I’m concerned Taiwan is Taiwan, HK is HK, etc. Makes me question why I would do business with Marriott or any company who elects to become a Chinese puppet.

  15. DFWSteve drop your made-in-China phones and laptops because they are basically made by Chinese puppets

  16. I think every country has a political system that works best for them. Not because the political system works well in the U.S., it should be better for all other countries. I think China has the political system that is working very well for the country and its people. Each system has its own strength and flaws.

    As for the Tiananmen Square incident, I do not know the full details. As a Chinese, I think the government was wrong for killing protesters and they should apologize.
    And according to the Wikileaks, it seems “there was no Tiananmen Square massacre, but there was a Beijing massacre”.

    Also, China is changing very fast, a lot can change in 3 years, not to mention 30 years. I don’t feel enjoying less freedom living in China than living in the U.S.

  17. I agree with DFWSteve…..who needs to go travel to the polluted and corrupt Mainland anyway? Taiwan and HK are far superior venues for travel opportunities.

  18. @Rrix: Gary is just an ordinary travel blogger. You need to ignore his political views, which are basically those of a two-bit, trigger-pumping moron. He likes to paint himself in myopic freedom and prance hypocritically around criticism using pseudo-intellectual terms.

    People don’t like Marriott? Fine. Don’t stay there. Vote with your $$. Of course, unless you also throw away your iPhones, Macs and iPads, you are just being a whiny little bitch, like @DFWSteve.

    @Henry hit the nail on the head. Travel to Taiwan or Hong Kong instead of Beijing. Seriously, that’s a fantastic idea. We are just so excited about seeing the Great Wall of Taipei and the Hong Kong terracotta warriors. One question, though, @Henry, does that pointy little noggin of yours hurt when you think?

    There is a plus side if you don’t go to Beijing. Beijing is overcrowded as it is and having fewer lard-asses like Gary floating around will serious improve the quality of life of those who live in Beijing.

  19. Maybe the people at Marriott should understand the countries they do business in? Things like Taiwan or the break away of Tibet are the subjects most likely to trigger a full on war in the region. ANYONE who does business with China should be fully aware of just how sensitive a subject this is with the Chinese. This is hardly an issue to toy around with because the chinese government believes that if they allow these regions to break away then it will be the end of all their power and therefore they would rather die than let that happen. Unlike the title of your article I would hardly suggest China rules us all, but if you want to do business in their frickin country its best to be educated about the region.

  20. @Henry you do understand that Hong Kong is part of China right? It may be a separate administrative region but it is most certainly part of china and your comment makes it seem like you don’t understand that basic fact.

  21. @Bill If you don’t worry about that ‘China’ rules you all, what is your opinion on the following matters:

    China Post was found by Chinese netizens that it was listing Taiwan as a country. However, there is no report on ‘one week suspension’ of the website of China Post. What does this indicate?

    Most people in free region of Republic of China would consider ‘Taiwan, a province of China’ an offensive label, given the context of the term ‘China’. Should they ask MNEs to cease operations in free region of Republic of China?

  22. M:
    1.The suspension is most likely about Tibet, as Delta also messed up ROC(Taiwan) and Hongkong, and they didn’t get the suspension.

    2.Since PRC and ROC are still “at war” since 70 yrs ago, PR China couldnt care less about what people in ROC think is “offensive”. Even the new DPP gov has no gut to pull that trigger of seperation. Face the reality: PRC’s bullying ROC and theres nothing you can do about it

  23. @M: Does it hurt when you think?

    China Post is a government entity. It would take a special class of retard to believe the government would take them offline for a week over any offense. I’m sure, though, the culprit would be identified and dealt with administratively.

    Taiwan has nowhere near the political or economic power of the Mainland and is in no position to shut down MNEs. Are they going to cry to the UN? Oh, wait a second … they were booted out of the UN. Raise a diplomatic protest, perhaps? Sorry, M, no kewpie doll for you. The vast majority of countries do not recognize Taiwan.

    Most people in free region of Republic of China would consider ‘Taiwan, a province of China’ an offensive label, given the context of the term ‘China’. Should they ask MNEs to cease operations in free region of Republic of China?

  24. I’m glad this piece was posted. Until reading the comments on it, I wouldn’t have thought it being an important piece, but after reading the bizarre and fierce objections, I realize how necessary it it is (and I wonder how long until this website is banned on the mainland)….

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