Marriott Removes Banned Book From Chinese Hotel

Marriott had to take down their website and mobile app after Shanghai authorities were notified the hotel company listed Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries on a survey.

Then after a Marriott employee working the Marriott Rewards twitter account ‘liked’ a tweet by Friends of Tibet the company was letting everyone know that employee was being fired rather than the usual corporate response of not commenting on personnel matters.

Now Marriott is proactively removing banned books out of fear of offending Chinese bureaucrats.

As recently as Sunday, hollow, cardboard copies of “Bloody Harvest: the Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs” appeared on bookshelves in the lounge of the Element by Westin hotel in Chongli, a ski area about three hours northwest of the Chinese capital that is being developed as an Olympics site. China branded the Falun Gong an “evil cult” in 1999 after about 10,000 followers surrounded the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing in a silent protest.

After being informed about the titles’ presence by Bloomberg News, the hotel pulled them down and alerted the local Public Security Bureau, Element Chongli said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “As we are assisting the PSB with their enquiries we will not be commenting further,” the hotel said via a Marriott representative.

If you do business in China, you follow Chinese rules. And China’s strong reaction in forcing their website to go down for a week – no doubt causing their hotels significant lost business – taught Marriott a lesson that they needed to collaborate with the regime or face consequences.

In other news there is no truth to the rumor that Marshal Pétain is next in line to replace Arne Sorenson as CEO of Marriott.

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. […] But a company built on Mormon values, that distributed the Book of Mormon, will be putting Muslim prayer rooms in hotels in order to gain access to new markets? A huge departure from the days of J. Willard Marriott for this globalized company, but no surprise that they’ll conform to local custom considering they self-report the presence of banned books to the Chinese government. […]


  1. Will the be removing the Book of Mormon from every room?

    Immovable object meets unstoppable force… will be fun to see if it hits the radar.

  2. @Andy: Obviously you know very little about China. Falun Gong is nothing close to being an unstoppable force / immovable object. I’m sure the local Public Security Bureau is looking at the book placement seriously. Police investigations in China are rarely covered in the press and can be far more successful than you can imagine. Falun Gong has long been decimated on the Mainland and its chances for revival are precisely zilch. Whether it’s right or wrong is immaterial.

    Marriott knows exactly what they need to do if they don’t want to be forced overnight into a Chinese bankruptcy. Everybody knows the rules. The only choice is either like them or lump them.

  3. Sad to see that the Fahrenheit 541 Chinese goon squad has western corporations in the midst of self-censoring.

  4. Jc – I never said a thing about Falun Gong. Don’t know about it/them, don’t care either.

    I was talking about the Marriott/LDS connection, and you simply read into it something that wasn’t there.

    But thanks for the data point re BoM in China Marriotts. I was truly curious, since every Marriott I’ve ever visited has had the BoM in the nightstand (well, I stayed at a Marriott in Beijing 15 years ago but didn’t check, so not sure if it had one or not).

  5. Of course there is no Book of Mormon in Marriott hotels in China. That’s why they offer alcohol in their hotels, and offered in-room porn until free porn on the Interwebs made that offering unprofitable. Bill and Richard will choose $$ every time. “Travail, patrie, argent….”

  6. too many regs in China..-WHAT WOULD THE GOV DO IF ALL us HOTELS LEFT ?? NOT GOOD FOR THE TOURIST TRADE???They make alot of $$$from the US tourists and they want to stay in nice US backed hotels!!!!

  7. @dot — other chains not headquartered would move in and pick up the slack. The buildings are already developed and built, so leaving would be a catastrophic loss for any hotel chain that has made those kinds of investments.

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