Chinese authorities don't take kindly to businesses calling Taiwan a country, as Medtronic now knows.
The company was chastised Friday along with Delta Air Lines and fashion brand Zara, for making such a reference on its website. Chinese regulators forced the firms to formally apologize, but it could have been worse. Just a day earlier, U.S. 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. China claims Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet as territories.
The issue serves as a warning to multinational companies to be mindful of local laws and cultural sensitivities.
"The companies that come to China should respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by China's laws, and respect the feelings of the Chinese people. That is the minimum requirement of any company going to another country to carry out business and investment," said foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang during a regular briefing Friday, according to a Reuters report.
Medtronic has already updated its website and issued an apology. The company reportedly said in a statement that it understood the Chinese authorities' position but was only trying to help users quickly find the appropriate location.