China's civil aviation regulator reached out to the USA airline, instructing them to issue an apology and rectify the situation with immediate effect.
Websites of major corporations such as Zara and Delta Air Lines listing Taiwan as a separate country were being targeted by authorities and netizens in China, reports said Friday. Hong Kong, a former British colony, and Macau, a former colony of Portugal, were returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 and 1999, respectively, under the special arrangement called "one country, two systems". China accuses the Dalai Lama of stoking up a separatist movement.
China and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war, but the Chinese government still considers the island as its territory.
Shanghai authorities are probing whether the gaffe in Marriott International's Mandarin-language questionnaire violated national cyber-security and advertising laws.
Marriott suspended the questionnaire and apologized.
China issued curbs on South Korea retail and tourism companies, with some of the country's consumers boycotting Korean goods. A Marriott account was then used to "liked" the Friends of Tibet comment. We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize.
"The general political atmosphere these days is that you don't stand on the wrong side of sovereignty issues in the Xi Jinping era", said Ether Yin, partner at research firm Trivium China in Beijing.
"It's hard not to see it as part of the wider trend where nationalist issues are being emphasized very deliberately as part of the new era", said a China-based Western businessman who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the topic.
At the same time, Beijing has accused Washington of meddling in its internal affairs after President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law in December that laid the foundation for mutual naval drills between Taiwan and the United States. In recent weeks, Taiwan has reported increased incursions into its airspace by military planes from China.