Lack of respect for China's sovereignty shows bias, ignorance: expert

Western media reports and foreign companies operating in China have displayed their bias, ignorance and lack of sensitivity when it comes to understanding China's sovereignty, said Chinese experts, as the country moves to insist proper respect be paid to the country's inherent and lawful territories.

"Respect of the country's sovereignty, integrity and people's feelings are a fundamental requirement if foreign firms are to enjoy a good business environment in China, just as it is for all countries in the world." Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Sunday.

China's top aviation regulator, China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) on Friday demanded Delta Air Lines immediately correct its website which lists China's Tibet Autonomous Region and Taiwan as "countries." The regulator also required the airline publically acknowledges it had made the correction.

Marriott International hotels' website and app in China were shut down for listing Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as "countries" in a customer questionnaire.

The CAAC, in the notice, also ordered that all overseas airlines operating routes in China to check their websites and phone apps and to strictly comply with China's relevant regulations and laws to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

Bai is also upset that some Western media don't understand how hurtful and ignorant their reporting can be on the subject. "For the sake of people's feelings of other countries, we never make that kind of mistake. This incident shows how Westerners take our country lightly," he said.

Reuters reported on Friday that China's efforts to correct these errors underscore how sensitive the issue of sovereignty has become in China and suggested a possible coordinated campaign at a high level of government.

"It's hard not to see it as part of the wider trend where such issues are being emphasized very deliberately as part of the new era," the report quoted a unidentified China-based Western businessman as saying, who added foreign businesses have "to be even more careful about these sensitivities."

Bai suggested reports like the one in the New York Times on Thursday displayed a flippant attitude on the issue by giving leeway for businesses to display their ignorance of Chinese history.

"The error is a common one, and easy to make, among companies that do business there. A simple website drop-down menu labeled "countries" can inadvertently bestow the nation label on places like Taiwan and Hong Kong," the New York Times reported on Thursday.

China's travel regulator, the National Tourism Administration also issued a notice targeting hotels in China ordering them to adhere to China's sovereignty in all their promotions.

The live streaming platform Huajiao on Saturday apologized on its Sina Weibo account for listing Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries during a live episode of a game show.